Skagi - Of monsters, ghosts and even polar bears

Do you think there are ghosts, monsters or even polar bears roaming around the area?
Listen to a story from Sigrún Lárusdóttir that is born and raised in Skagi peninsula.

In the player below you can listen to the story as well as it is available in writing further down the page.
The story is read by Birna Pétursdóttir.


"Selvík is a cove on the eastern Skagi peninsula, approximately 35 km north of Sauðárkrókur. At the abandoned farm Selnes, on the northern side of the cove, one can clearly see the remains of a fishing station. Foreign merchants also traded there in centuries past. Selvík became a legalised trading centre on 27 November 1903. Merchants from Sauðárkrókur operated a branch there for some time and also a fish processing plant. Selvík was one of the places mentioned in Sturlunga saga, because it was from there that Kolbeinn ungi set off with his fleet of on the Day of St. John (24 June, or Midsummer) in 1244. He headed for the Westfjords but encountered the ships of Þórður kakali halfway across Húnaflói bay. The battle became known as Flóabardagi; Iceland’s only sea battle.

The last resident of Selnes was Jón Norðmann Jónasson, a well-known scholar of ancient studies and he was personally familiar with various ghosts in the area. He was born in 1889 and died in 1976. He worked as a teacher in Reykjavík in the winter and spent his summers at Selnes. People often asked him to foster unruly boys, who thought their time was better spent on something other than schoolbooks. Jón had a way with these boys and often when he went to Selnes in the spring, he took a group of them with him. Over the summer, he worked on improving their behaviour, which was usually a great success and after their stay with Jón, their attitude was quite different.

Jón ended his teaching career by tutoring well-behaved country kids from the farms on Skagi. I was one of his pupils. He was a wonderful teacher and it was especially fun to listen to his ghost stories in the evening. We were in a boarding school and he would always tell us stories. As the story progressed, we started lifting our legs from the floor and placing them in our beds, because you never knew what might be lurking underneath and could grab hold of you!

Jón was not fazed by ghosts, monsters or any supernatural creature. But there was someone that he was afraid of and despised: The Russians. He always assumed that they would attack Iceland. One night a ship sailed into Selvík, shining its searchlights straight up Selnesbjörg cliff. But it was only coast guard cruiser Albert trying out its new searchlights! Jón was dead scared. He rounded up all the boys that stayed with him at the time, loaded them onto his Farmal Kubb tractor; some stood at the back and other ran alongside it. He was determined to escape before the Russians would reach shore. Later he realised that there were only Icelanders onboard, so it turned out alright.

Skagi is the part of Iceland were the most polar bears have arrived. In recent decades, three polar bears have swum ashore on Skagi. In my youth, sea ice was common and I was sent to the beach to round up the sheep. The sheep had to be brought home even though polar bears might be near. No one told me to be afraid of them, just to watch out, use my head, be sensible and if I were to spot a strange animal, it would be best to run home and leave the sheep. That never happened but there are many more stories of polar bear arrivals on Skagi."