The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft - Atlas Obscura

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The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery & Witchcraft

Hólmavík, Iceland

Staves, storm-calling, and of course, necropants. 


While witches are traditionally thought of as female, those accused of witchcraft in Iceland were traditionally male, but during a superstitious time in the country’s past, they were executed just the same.

At Strandagaldur, the museum of Icelandic sorcery & witchcraft, these times of magic and fear are remembered in often shocking detail. The museum focuses on the elaborate and esoteric spells and rituals that the regional magic called for which would provide such effects as conjuring a creature to steal goat’s milk or making someone invisible. The collection features a number of artfully displayed original artifacts and entertaining replicas such as rune-carved pieces of wood, animal skulls, and a number of Icelandic magical staves. However, the most shocking and remarkable piece is easily the so-called “necropants“ which is the dried skin of a man from the waist down. These horrifying leggings were used in a spell that would supposedly bring the caster more money. 

The museum also features a display of an undead skeleton breaking up through the floor to further explicate the terror sorcery once caused the local people. Strandagaldur stands as a graphic reminder that while witchcraft has been feared the world over, Iceland really turned sorcery into something terrifying.

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