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posticon Norwegian sea serpents


Time: 1867, July 13th, Saturday
Place: The Mandsfjord, or the Mandalsfjord at Mandal. The south coast.
Seen by: 8 witnesses !
This was a most extraordinary event that took only a few days to reach the bailiff and the courtrooms in Mandal, at July 30th.

 

1st witness: Pilot Gunder Jørgensen, 49 years.
Together with his young son he had gone to the shores near Gismer island to tend to his salmon net on Saturday 13th. Later he wanted to row to some skerries, called Hvillingskjæret, where he intended to dry his salmon net. As they got close to the rock, his son got aware of something swimming in the water. The witness at first thought it might be a fish of some kind that was hurt.

Having cut the distance to about 20 feet, he saw that the thing had to be the head of a big animal. There were two protuberances on the head, one on each side. The head appeared to have a pointed snout. He was not able to see eyes. Banging one of his oars against the rail of the boat, the witness hoped to scare the animal away. So it happened, - for several minutes.

Safe on the rocks at Hvillingskjær, he again observed the same head, now bigger than before. He then realized that the animal now held the head completely out of the water. The animal began leisurely patrolling the open water between Hvillingskjær and Kleven and kept up doing so very slowly for half an hour, and was at a 120 feet distance at the closest. At about 6 [sign in to see URL] witness left the rocks without seeing the animal. Suddenly it surfaced 40 - 60 feet away from the rowing boat, again displaying its head abowe the surface. Suddenly it sped off in the direction of the mouth of the fjord and the small Hattøy island, leaving a powerful surge behind it. At a distance of 200 feet he saw that the body of the animal formed a dozen humps, each a distance of three feet apart.

When he was asked to estimate the length of the animal visible above the surface, he proposed a length of 30 feet. Further he estimated the total length to be far more, as the thickness of the animal were equal in both ends, and a considerable part of the body was hidden submerged. The animal moved with vertical undulations, not horizontal as was the nature of terrestial snakes. The witness had travelled the seas from his youth and had been a pilot for the last two decades. He had seen many sorts of sea creatures, but never anything like this. The colour of the animal was dark.

2nd witness: His son Søren, 10 - 11 years.
He supported the statement of his father, and he was excused without having to give an oath.


3rd witness: Pilot Bent Olsen from Kleven, 45 years.
He was told about the animal by Gunder and his son, and he observed the animal at long distance. From land he was later able to watch it through his scope, but due to the long distance he was not able to see anything of the animal but the undulating movements as it swam away at high speed.

4th witness: Pilot Gabriel Olsen from Kleven, 43 years.
His statement was accoording to the previous witness as he was with him in his boat.

 

5th witness. Merchant and captain Theodor Bessesen from Kleven, 35 years.
He declared that he lived at Kleven. When he found out about the animal, he climbed the rocks at Kleven bringing his excellent scope. Sitting there he very clearly was able to watch the animal move at high speed with vertical undulations. The sea was dead calm and the animal was quite a way off. It appeared to be massive and to be exceptionally long and big. The witness and some others wanted to go out in a boat for the purpose of harpooning the animal, but at that point it headed for the open sea. The witness is an experienced sailor.

 

6th witness: Customs officer Svend Thorkildsen Banken, 54 years.
He stated that he had been out fishing at Friday12th. The time was 6 p.m., and he was in the Krågefjord when he saw the animal a great distance away.

7th witness: Pilot Niels Olsen Skjebstad, 56 years.
His statement was according to the previous witness as they had been in the same boat.

 

8th witness: Pilot Jacob Jansen from Kleven, 54 years.
He stated that he had passed the animal at sea on Saturday 13th just before 10 p.m.. He was using his own boat travelling from Kleven to Mandal. He observed it at a distance of 60 feet. At that time of the evening much of the daylight was gone, but he was still able to see well. The witness saw something that looked like a head above the water. 30 feet further back he saw humps. He was not able to see anything of the animal between the head and the humps. The animal moved very fast and left a small wake.


  


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The description of the animal:

The head - ends in a pointed snout. Two protuberances on the head, one on each side.
The neck - obviously a well defined neck. One witness estimated a length of 30 feet between the neck and the humps (at the main body).
The length - my estimate says 90 - 120 feet.
The head (unknown length) + The neck: almost 5 fathoms (30 feet) + The main body: about 10 - 12 humps plus the distances between each (3 feet) + the tail. Total length may be 90 - 120 feet, more than a blue whale, but much slimmer. Still it would weigh many tons.
Humps - 10 to12 humps with a 3 feet distance between each hump.
Colour - dark.
Swimming - vertical movements. Able to change from very slow swimming to high speed swimming leaving a powerful wake.

It swam like mammals do, - with undulating vertical movements.
Some of the witnesses uses the word "bukter", which can be translated to both coils and humps. I choose to use the humps, instead of coils, because the animal was described to have a very massive main body. An animal so big and massive would never be able to coils itself creating coils so close to each other as a 3 feet distance at surface level. Only a slimmer serpentine like animal would be able to do that. None of the witnesses ever refers to a serpent likeness (with a parallell even body). The word "bukter" must refer to humps positioned along the back. The animal swam with vertical movements as some of the witnesses pointed out. Only sea mammals move that way. Fish and reptiles use horizontal movements.


So, the animal consisted of a head, a long neck, a massive and long body, that eventually ended in a tail of some kind. NONE of the witnesses called this animal a sea serpent, nor did the court. To the witnesses it meant that they had seen an unknown animal, whatever species it ever belonged to. All the witnesses were experienced sailors and seamen who knew well the animals and fish of their coast.

In the old days our country used foot, feet, inches and the rest - but (since 1875) we of course have use the modern metric system.



Last edited by MaTTsWoRld, Sep/21/2007, 10:29 am


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Re: Norwegian sea serpents


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Last winter I met with the distinguished sea captain , now admiral, Mr. Lorentz de Ferry. Since long he had been doubting the existence of the sea serpent, until he got convinced about the opposite in 1746. He had been summoned to the Bergen Court in 1751 together with two of his men who also had been with him and seen the sea serpent. "

Pontoppidan found this case highly interesting and included the story and the court documents in his book.

The testimony of Lorentz de Ferry:
"I was returning from a journey to Trondheim in 1746 and was only a couple of miles away from Molde outside a point called "Juleneset". The time was late August with calm and hot weather, and I sat reading a book. Suddenly I noticed mumbling voices among my 8 oarsmen, and I noticed that the course had been shifted to off the shore. I asked for an explanation and was answered that the sea serpent had been straight ahead. Even if the men looked a bit frightened, I at once ordered the course to be turned back towards land to head for the mysterious creature. The sea serpent passed in front of us, and again I ordered the boat to turn to get closer to the creature. But the sea serpent swam faster than we were able to row, so I raised my flintlock gun loaded with pellets and shot at the animal who immediately dived a short distance away. We moved over to the spot where the serpent had last been seen. It was easy to find due to the calm weather. The water was thick with blood, may be a pellet ot two had hit it. In vain we rested a while on the oars to see if it surfaced again.

The sea serpent looked like this: The head was held two feet above the water and had the same shape as a horse´s head. Its colour was sort of greyish, and the snout was was quite black. The eyes were very big, and a long, white mane hung from the neck into the water. The body was very thick. 7 - 8 humps were visible, and we estimated a 6 feet distance between each hump.

I told this story in a party, and a certain gentleman wanted me to go public with the story. Therefore I am present before this court giving this statement together with two of my oarsmen, Niels Pedersen Kopper and Niels Nielsen Anglevichen.

February 21st 1751
L. D. Ferry"

 

[The distance between each hump = ca 6 feet. Head + neck + 6 distances between the humps + 7-8 humps + tail, = adds quickly to a length of at least 60 feet!]


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Re: Norwegian sea serpents


AT SEA: Sea serpents always had a nasty reputation of being dangerous to small boats. At any rate people were mortally afraid of them.
Onsøy in Østfold
A man died after having been hit hard by the tail of a sea serpent.

Ellinggårdkilen at Onsøy
In the Ellinggård inlet a sea serpent used to go ashore to hunt calves of dairy cows. There soon was a trail from the sea leading up to the pasture. No farmer wanted to take the calves indoors, as they then expected the sea creature to cause still worse damage. Not even bullets of old silver did any harm to it. When the congregation was assembled in prayers for protection, the sea serpents took still more calves. One brave and strong man then made a club of solid oak tree and hid to ambush the animal. When the sea serpent finally arrived, he struck a hard blow and killed the beast. The tradition says that one of the vertebrae parts for years was used as a milking stool in the barn of Ellingsøy farm.

Ørekvam in Hordaland
For a few successive years Åsmund Ørekvam saw a sea serpent at about the same spot at a certain time of the summer. It was growing bigger all the time. He ha made an axe with an unusually long handle in order to kill the serpent. When he met the creature again, it was half in the water, half on land. Even if he was a very strong and curageous man, he did not dare to pick a fight when he got close and saw the sheer size of the animal.

Bjørnefjorden
Johannes Furuberg in Mauranger was on his way to Bergen to buy grain. He had borrowed a gun to defend himself if he met the sea serpent. In the Bjornefjord he saw somthing that he assumed to be a cluster of fishing boats. It wasn`t. It was the sea serpent, and in vain he tried to outrow it. When it got very close to his boat, it raised its head high. Johannes said a prayer, pointing the gun directly into the mouth of the monster he pulled the trigger. The orm sank out of sight and coloured the sea red with blood. Johannes loaded the gun again but the sea serpent did not surface again.

Molde
Lorentz de Ferry and his oars crew met a sea serpent at Juleneset in 1746. De Ferry shot at the animal, and it disappeared.

Romsdalsfjorden
Five men in a little sailboat met a sea serpent in the Romsdal fjord in 1815. One of the men, [sign in to see URL], fired a shot against the head of the sea serpent at close range. The orm chased the men in the small boat till it reached shallow water, whereupon it turned and left.

Brekkestadbukta at Ørland
A sea serpent entered the Brekkestad bay close to the entrance of the Trondheim fjord. It stayed there patrolling the area, forcing the fishermen to stay on land. No one dared go out fishing, until the blacksmith Jørn Hovde solved the problem for them. He rammed a lot of iron spikes into a log and went sea serpent fishing in the bay. When the sea serpent closed in on him, he sent the spiked log forward. The creature attacked the log, and eventuallyt got itself killed from the spike wounds.

Sandøyfjorden
The sea serpent entered the Sandøyfjord and stayed there. No one dared to go fishing, except for an old man who knew what to do. He told the people to ask a blacksmith to make a lot of iron spikes and hammer them into a log he had found. Then they were to push the log out in the fjord next to an anchored boat. So they did. When they started banging on the empty rowing boat, the sea serpent surfaced. It saw the log and attacked. The log started rolling in the water and the sea serpent coiled itself around it. The dead sea serpent later drifted ashore. No animal or bird ever ate from the carcass except for the ravens.

Tysfjorden
Some fishermen were outside the north side of Brynilen. Two boats were anchored to allow the crew to sleep. Suddenly one of the fishermen saw a head come out of the sea. The beast stretched its neck and peeked down into the other boat. Then it disappeared but surfaced again on the other side of the boat. Suddenly it lunged forward and pressed the boat down into the water causing both boat and crew to disappear. The two fishermen of the other boat hurried towards the safety of the nearest shore, but they had to stay there for two days before the sea serpent left the area.
There are other stories about narrow escapes, but none as dramatic as this one.

 

IN THE LAKES AND THE RIVERS: Contrary to salt water sea serpents the sweet water variety have never presented any direct danger or harm to humans, except for accidents caused by panic or people trying to kill the animal..

Mjøsa
1.A Mjoes orm was killed in 1522 by a volley of cross bow arrows.
[sign in to see URL] Mjoes orm had crawled up to the Ringsaker church. A brave man climbed the bell tower and fired at it till it returned to the lake.
[sign in to see URL] the1920ies a man hunting pike emptied the magazine of his Krag Jørgensen rifle at a sea serpent.

Hønefoss
A man shot at an orm that came swimming downstream the river. When he succeeded in dragging the dead orm ashore and saw the size of the animal, he lost his mind.

Sperillen
Åbborvatnet at Bjonskogen.
The gun smith Rifle-Gunder lived in the 1st part of the 19th century. When he was about to kill the greedy sea serpent of the Aabbor lake in the Bjon woods, he crafted a heavy rifle in caliber 20 mm. The orm in the small Aabbor lake was particularly keen on killing and eating livestock. Rifle-Gunder brought a live goat that he tied in a leash on some flat rocks close to the shore, but he also tied himself to a tree as he was afraid of the mesmerizing effect of looking into the sea serpent eyes. The gun was loaded with two bullets, the one on top of the other. The orm came swimming, got ashore and grabbed the bleating goat. Rifle-Gunder then aimed at a yellow spot on the breast of the orm and pulled the trigger. When the death throes of the animal subsided, the Aabbor lakes was coloured red with blood.

This orm was supposed to have come from the lake Randsfjord. That one in turn was supposed to have come from the lake Mjoesa. Stories like these probably originated from the fact that many stories tell about sea serpents that were seen when they appeared on land going back into the lake.

Sperillen
Another sea serpent was supposed to have come from the lake Vangsmjoesa along the river, then entering the lake Sperillen. Again Rifle-Gunder was called upon to hunt it with his unique rifle. Crossing a pasture in Fjoesvika he came next to a summer barn where he spotted a hideous head resting in the doorway. The sea serpent had taken a nap inside the barn. Rifle-Gunder aimed at the head and fired. When the beast was hit in the head the convulsions and death throes of the dying creature crushed much of the inside riggings of the barn.
The arm of Rifle-Gunder used to twitch when he was about to go hunting some big animal. Before this trip the arm "almost came off", but it was the last time his arm predicted a killing.

Seljord
In the Aall woods there is a small lake calld Mork lake. Knut Kleiva went fishing there when he saw a small orm. He managed to get it ashore and started killing the animal by hitting it with his wooden fishing rod. By the time it died just two feet were left of Knut`s rod. The neighbours called the10 feet long creature a water orm.

Fyresvatn
The sea serpent here was named the Gjev Troll. It was last seen in 1918 by two men when it recieved three rounds from one of the men`s Krag Jørgensen rifle.

In Setesdal
A man ramming a long wooden stick into the throat of a sea serpent, was rewarded by a blow of the tail so hard that he suffered from it the rest of his life.

Hallandsvatnet at Mandal
Two brothers gone fishing to the Halland lake met a sea serpent there in 1969. One of the men threw a heavy stone down onto its head.

Vangsvatnet at Bruvik in Hordaland. An orm rested in the outlet thus damming the lake. People hung gleaming brass outside the bell tower of the church. The orm got curious, came close to have a look and got killed.

Jølstervatnet. The wedding party in a boat hung a silver can outside the boat railing. The orm came, and its head got chopped off.



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Re: Norwegian sea serpents


The oldest descriptions
  

 
Erik Walkendorf, 1465 - 1522
Catholic Archbishop of Trondheim from 1510.
A letter he wrote to Pope Leo X in 1520 contains the first mentioning of the sea serpent in a public letter: "The smallest of them are 60 feet long and 10 feet thick. The squarish head is longer than the body. They are grey of colour and are only seen when the air is clear and the sea is calm; they are greedy creatures that kill people."

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Jacob Ziegler
His book "Scondia" was published in 1532. He mentions the serpent in lake Mjoesa, and that the presence of the 100 feet long sea serpent is an omen predicting the fall of king Christian.

 

Olaus Magnus
A swedish high ranking catholic who fled the Reformation in Sweden to seek refuge in Italy.
His map "Carta Marina" from 1539, with drawing of vessels and attacking sea monsters.
His book "The History of the Nordic People", published in Venice in latin. It had many illustrations of the sea serpent. The Norwegian Sea Serpent got known in Europe.
"Those who sail along the coasts of Norway to trade or to fish all tell a strange story, a tale of a serpent of immense proportions, 200 feet long or 20 feet thick, that inhabits caves and caverns in the sea outside Bergen. This serpent comes out of its caves in light summer nights to feed on calves, lambs or pigs, or it goes out into the ocean to eat polyps, crabs and other sea food. It has 2 feet long hair hanging down from its neck, sharp black scales and flaming red eyes. It attacks vessels, catches and eats people, as it lifts itself out of the water like a pillar."

 
Peder Claussøn Friis
Minister in Audnedal.
His book: "About Animals, Fish, Birds and Trees in Norway", published in 1599. This book was meant the be educational and was written in latin, "A Description of Norway", published in 1613. "These dangerous animals or fish do not exist south or east of Jaeren, but are found in the big lake Mjoesa at Hedmarken which is 140 km long and quite a few hundred feet deep at some places. It is both written and told that a big serpent is seen close to the island in the same lake, - but only when there is a change to another king, or another big change in the kingdom takes place."
"I do not think it is a natural serpent, because if it was it would have been seen more often. It is said to be 100 feet long and was seen not many years ago."

Clausson Friis came up with a very plausible theory how a sea serpent could be found in a lake far in the interior: "In the Lunde lake there is said to be a sea serpent that has been seen some times. The same has been said about the previously mentioned lake Mjoesa at Hedmarken. If this is the case, they are not ghosts but are real sea serpents who have come from the sea, - sea serpent eggs or tiny sea serpent babies in the sea have been sucked up into the clouds and later got into the lake together with the rain."

Totally uncritical to the source Clausson Friis puts in writing anything he gets hold of, contrary to the later Erik Pontoppidan who actually talked to the witnesses himself. Friis mentions a herring caught in the Oslo fjord with side markings resembling letters, an omen said to be a forwarning of the death of king Fredrik the next year.
The best way to save your life if you met a sea serpent would be to read a prayer and then position the boat between the sun and the animal, thus letting the sea serpent be blinded by the sun.

 

Michael Andersen Aalborg
Minister in Vang church at lake Mjoesa, from 1610 to 1626. "In the lake there is a monster called the sea serpent. It has a horse like head and is 120 - 180 feet long. It has been seen three times since 1610."

 

Hans Egede
Missionary and minister at Greenland
In his book "Det gamle Groenlands nye Perlustration eller Natural Historie" published in 1746, he also wites about a sea serpent:

"...a terrible sea monster.... that was seen in 1734 outside the colony. It was an enormously big creature: Its head reached the yard arm when it rose out of the water. The body was as thick as the ship and was 3 - 4 times as long. It had a pointed nose, and blew like a whale. It had big broad limbs, and the body seemed to be covered with barnacles, and the skin was very rough. The general shape was that of a serpent. When it dived, it lunged backwards and then raised the tail above the surface a ship`s length away."

 

Erik Pontoppidan,1698 -1764.
He was Bishop of Bergen from 1747, and he wrote a two volume book "The first Attempt of the Natural History of Norway", 1752 - 54. The book was translated to German and later to English. This made the Norwegian sea serpent well known abroad. Pontoppidan got his information directly from fishermen and merchants along the coast, people who had seen the creature themselves. One of book`s chapters deal with the sea serpent, Serpens marinus, or "Aale-tust" as it also was called.
"I have been among those who have doubted the reality and the existence of the sea serpent, but at last my doubts were refuted by solid evidence."

"Hundreds of our finest sailors and fishermen have been eyewitnesses to the sea serpent. I have met a lot of people from our fjords in the north, and they were able to confirm my questions, and their descriptions of the animal is the same. Some who has come here for trading purposes regard these questions as superfluous as questions whether cods or whales exist."

He wrote this about the "horrible monstrum marinum" :
"I must assure you of the real existence of this serpent before I start describing it. This sea creature dwells in the deep except for July and August which is its playing time. It surfaces when the sea is dead calm, but sinks back when the slightest stir ripples the surface."
The body is wide as a barrel, but the tail narrows towards the end.

1745: "A fisherman met a long, big and strange animal north of Bergen. It came swimming towards his boat and got so close that the waves hit the boat before the animal submerged and was gone. The head looked like that of a a seal, the body was thick, and it was long as a big boat."

About 1750: "A fisherman who had been so close to it that he actually had been able to touch its smooth skin, told that sometimes these animals are said to raise the head out of the water and snatch one of the crew from a boat. I do not know if this is true, as it is quite uncertain whether it is a fierce predator or not."

Pontoppidan was convinced that the animals that usually were called sea serpents might belong to different species. Here is one of those really strange stories indicating that he might be right.
Some fishermen got a 20 feet long weird looking animal in one of their nets. It had four limbs of some kind and reminded of a crocodile. The absolutely terrified fishermen dropped both net and creature back into the sea where it disappeared.

 

Hans Strøm, 1726 - 1797
Minister at Sunnmøre. He sent information of sea serpents and also drawings to Pontoppidan later to be used as basis for some illustrations in Pontoppidan`s book.

 

Knut Leem
Missionary and minister in Finnmark, later professor in the lapp/sami language.
His book "A Description of the Sami people of Finnmark" published in 1767. " The sea serpent known from the southern coasts is also seen in Finnmark, a terrible sea monster like the kraken. It is about 240 feet long, with black eyes and a head the size of a whale head, but of shape like a serpent. Its neck is narrower than the main body, and it has got long light grey hair hanging down on both sides of the neck like the mane of a horse. The back is also light grey, but the belly is rather whitish. It is most often seen in dead calm weather, with many coils that partly shows above the surface, partly hidden in the water. People are afraid of this nasty sea creature, and stays away if possible when it is around."

 

Claus Friman
1746 - 1829, the poet minister of Davik at Nordfjord.
For sea travels he always brought with him a pouch of Castoreum as a protection against the sea serpent. Castoreum is a musklike substance form the beaver`s anal scent glands, - smoked, dried and then ground to a fine substance. Another serpent repellant was Asafetida (Devil`s dung) the sap from the plant Ferula foetida from Iran and Afganistan that was dried and then pounded to a powderish substance. Both Castoreum and Asafetida were regarded as good serpent repellants and said to function well against all demonic powers.



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