Skrímslasetrið – Bíldudalur, Iceland - Atlas Obscura


Bíldudalur, Iceland

The Icelandic Sea Monster Museum explores the area's history of aquatic cryptid sightings. 


Tale of monstrous sea beasts have been blowing in from the cold seas off the shores of Iceland for centuries and a small fjord town that still reports regular sightings has established a museum to the history of these mythical cryptids.

Using videos, displays, advanced multimedia, and an atmosphere of eerie mystery, Arnarfjörður’s Skrímslasetrið museum delves into the history of Iceland’s sea monsters using the oral histories of those that have encountered them. Visitors can listen to eyewitness accounts, or view displays and literature exploring the history of such monsters. There is even an interactive table where amateur monster hunters can explore a map of Iceland’s coast, following pop-up stories of the monsters seen at various points.  

While reports of sea monsters greatly vary, there are four basic types that the museum says are endemic to the waters surrounding Iceland. Known as the the fjörulalli (Shore Laddie), the hafmaður (Sea Man), the skeljaskrímsli (Shell Monster) and the faxaskrímsli (Combed Monster/Sea Horse), each of the monsters have regularly reported characteristics that have made them identifiable at various sites around Iceland. Uniquely, Arnarfjördur claims to have seen sightings of all four over the years, making it a seeming hub of cryptozoological activity.

Despite having no concrete evidence of any unexplainable creatures lurking in the waters, the museum treats the collected accounts of sailors and other seamen as largely factual. The cultural importance of sea monster stories is so closely intertwined with the beliefs of local seamen that Skrímslasetrið could almost rightly be called a natural history museum.  

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July 22, 2016

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