The Lagarfljót Worm Origins

Deep is North Easter Iceland, you will find a seemingly still lake, ensconced in rolling hills. However, what lies beneath the surface will make your skin crawl – especially if your name is Abi.

You see, beneath the surface lurks a creature which has tormented the inhabitants of the area for centuries.

What The Lagarfljót Worm Looks Like

The worm has one notable aspect about its appearance, and that is its size. This thing is said to be absolutely ginormous, spanning about 200 feet in length. There is debate on how many humps there are to this worm. Some say one, some say two and some people say there are three humps on the worm’s back. Naturally as the name suggests it is a long, worm like creature.

Some account say it has a head which opens into a terrifying mouth with rows of razor sharp little teeth, similar to a leech.

The most interesting this about this worm is the fact that it is semi-aquatic. While most tales speak of it cresting the waves within the lake, it has been known to come aboard land, curling itself up on the lake’s shores and even slithering up trees in the surrounding area.

The Lagarfljót Worm Origins


The first initial record of the worm is thought to be found in an Icelandic Annal published in 1345. However, there is no definite mention of a worm or serpent. The record merely describes the sighting of a “wonderous thing”.

The “wonderous thing” was described as either small islands or humps appearing out of the water which were spread hundreds of fathoms apart. A fathom is the length of roughly ft.

However, no body witnessed a head or a tail, hence, the sighting remained nothing more than a “wonderous thing”.

16th Century

The 16th century marks the era when the real bones of this story began to emerge. The most notable mention of the creature hails from a map, commissioned by the bishop of the time, and created by cartographer, Abraham Ortelius.

On this map, there is an inscription next to Lake Lagarfljót, which states: “In this lake appears a large serpent (In hoc lacu est anguis insolitæ magnitudinis)” which are a menace to the inhabitants and appear when some memorable event is imminent”.

So, this for me was interesting, particularly the part that states that this monster appears particularly when a memorable event is imminent. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t stop living under a rock and go listen to my episode on the moth man.

Was the Lagarfljót monster the water based equivalent to the American soothsayer cryptid?

Apparently, the clergy of Iceland were quite taken by this beastie, because the next two accounts of the worm hail from two separate writings of two separate bishops.

In 1589, Bishop Oddur Einarsson released his work entitled Qualiscunque descriptio Islandiae. In the pages of this, you will also be able to find accounts of the Lagarfljót Worm.

Next up we have the works of one Gísli Oddsson. In his book entitled; De mirabilibus Islandiae (in chapter 6 specifically) he refers to the serpent that dwells in the waters of Lake Lagarfljót.

Notable Folklore Lagarfljót Worm Origins Tale

One of the most notable folktales about the Lagarfljót worm was published in 1862 by writer, librarian, and museum director Jón Árnason. In 1845, he dedicated his life to collecting folk tales of Iceland, one of which was that of the Lagarfljót Worm

Now, if like me you’ve been wondering why this creature is titled the Lagarfljót worm and not something more impressive like the Lagarfljót Serpent or Snake of Lake Lagarfljót, this story will explain all.

One day, a little girl was given a gold ring by her mother. She was told, in order to collect profit from the gold, she needed to place the ring beneath a heath-worm (or a black slug). So, the little girl quickly found herself a heath-worm, and placed it, and her golden ring in the topmost drawer of her linen chest.

When she returned to check on her treasure a few days later, she found that the slug had grown so large, it had broken out of the chest.

This terrified the child and so, she decided to throw the heath-worm, along with her gold, into lake Lagarfljót.

The worm continued to grow larger and larger in the depths of the lake, hoarding its gold and terrorizing the villagers.

The worm was unable to be killed, as its greed had caused it to grow too large. When you see the worm, it is said that you are in for a bad season ahead, or that your grass won’t grow.

So, as you can tell, the Lagarfljót worm gets its name from the fact that it started out as a humble heath-worm and that it was thrown into lake Lagarfljót.

For years, the legend of this creature grew and grew. Everyone had a tale to tell about their experience with the worm of lake Lagarfljót. And this seeps into recent history.

Current Times

In 1963, the worm was witnessed by the head of the Icelandic National Forest Service. In 1983, a group of telephone cable workers experienced a strange encounter with the worm as they attempted to lay cable on the eastern shores on the lake. In their words:

“This cable that was specially engineered so that it wouldn’t kink was wound in several places and badly torn and damaged in 22 different places . . . . I believe we dragged the cable directly over the belly of the beast. Unless it was through its mouth”

In 1998, a school teacher and her little class, out for an outing happened to all see the worm for themselves.

However, the most notable recent sighting of the worm comes to us from 2012. One morning, a local man was standing in his kitchen preparing his morning coffee. As he did so, he suddenly noticed a strange movement coming from the surface of the lake which can be seen from his kitchen window.

If you watch the video, you will see how a serpent like creature slowly winds its way against the current.

Obviously, this video reignited the spark for the lost monster, and tales of the worm started springing up left right and centred. However, the footage caused quite some controversy within Iceland.

Later in the year, a panel voted in favour of the of the video being authentic, even though evidence submitted by Finland-based researcher Miisa McKeown stated that it was nothing more thn a stationary optical illusion, which could be explained by something like a partially frozen fishing net being stuck in the water.

Naturally, this split opinion sparked a lot of criticism, however in 2014, the Icelandic truth commission stated that they saw no reason to doubt the existence of the creature.

It’s Not alone

The wild thing about this lake is that it is supposedly the hotspot for all aquatic cryptids of Iceland to hang out in. over the period of 1749-1750, another beastie was hanging around Lake Lagarfljót. This guy was said to have three humps, the body of a serpent and the head of a seal. It goes by the name of the Skrimsl.

However, the interesting thing about the Skrimsl is that it is said to usually inhabit Lake Skorradalsvatn, which can be found in western Iceland. Maybe a Skrimsl lost its way and wound up in Lake Lagarfljót?

What is the creature?

Naturally, the Icelandic people believe in the beast hard. So why don’t other people? There are a few issues with Lagarfljót creature, which we will go over now.

What makes the mystery

One huge issue with the waters of Lagarfljót is the fact that the water’s visibility is basically non-existent. This is due to the fact that Lake Lagarfljót is fed directly by a glacier. As the glacier falls, it brings segments of rock with it. As a result, Lake Lagarfljót suffers from siltation which is a fancy term for saying the lake is filled with silt or clay.

As such, you can hardly see anything below its surface, it is only when things pop up above the water break that they can be seen. As such, this just adds to the mystery of the monster.

The next one is that I really don’t think this thing is an overgrown slug that hailed from a little girl’s linen cabinet.

So, what do I think this beastie is?

Given the timeline of the beast, I’m pretty sure we’re dealing with a type of creature as opposed to one lone monster. Unless the beast has a ridiculously long life span of 700 odd years, it can’t just be one. Although, there is a shark swimming about that’s 400 years old.

But inner arguments aside there are two main things I think this beast could possibly be.

Suspect Numero Uno: An Eel

Ok look first I was totally on team Oarfish. Those things can grow ridiculously long, with the longest ever recorded coming in at 56 ft. However, upon further investigation, I found that these fish like the warmer climates, sticking to more tropical regions. So that put a spanner in my icy lake monster theory.

But then I realized that Iceland is home to the European eel. That’s a long, serpentine like thing.

Perhaps if one exists, then an older, longer, bigger eel could still be swimming about in Lake Lagarfljót. Look, the largest eel ever found was caught in the nets of Icelandic fisherman, when they hauled in a European Conger Eel which weighed in at 159 kgs, measuring 21 feet in length. And it was huge and looked like a worm.

So that’s theory number one.

But then we have the semi-aquaticness of it all

The second theory I have is that the Lagarfljót worm is a giant, semi aquatic snake. I put this forward merely to weigh in on the semiaquatic side of things.

Truth be told, my heart is 100% sold on the creature being a prehistoric, giant eel.

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