From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Great-Lake Monster"
Sub groupingLake monster
Other name(s)Storsie (English)
RegionStorsjön, Jämtland

In Swedish folklore, the Storsjöodjuret (Swedish pronunciation: [ˈstûːrɧøːʊˌjʉːrɛt], literally "The Great-Lake Monster"[a]) is a lake monster said to live in the 90-metre-deep (300 ft) lake Storsjön in Jämtland in the middle of Sweden.

The lake monster is first attested in a 1635 manuscript, according to which the sea/lake serpent (sjöorm) was bound up magically in the lake's depths by Kettil Runske who carved his spell into the Frösö Runestone (Frösö being an island in this lake). Later folk legends circulating locally in Jämtland claimed the monster was a product of tinkering by two trolls, and that it was a cat-headed creature with a black serpentine body.

There have been numerous eyewitness accounts since the 19th century, giving varying details, some claiming a dog-like head.


Storsjöodjuret and Östersund

The monster is popularly referred to as Storsjöodjuret (the noun Storsjöodjur was first used in 1899[b][1]) where odjur is a Swedish word for ‘monster’ or ‘large vermin’,[2][3] literally ‘unanimal’.[5] While Storsjö is the name of a lake (or lakes), storsjö can also be a common noun meaning ‘great-lake’, being the compound of Swedish stor (‘big’ or ‘great’) and sjö (‘lake’) .

Sometimes it is simply called Storsjödjuret (‘The great-lake animal’).[6][c]

In the English language Storsjöodjuret is sometimes called Storsie, similarly to Nessie,[7] though the names Storsjö Monster,[8] Storsjoe Monster[9] or "the monster of Lake Storsjön", etc.,[10] and the literal translation The Great Lake Monster are used.[11] Its Latin name is Hydogiganta Monstruidae Jemtlandicum.[12][additional citation(s) needed] It has also been called Storsjöormen (‘The Great Lake Serpent’).[13]


The Frösö Runestone from the mid 11th century. In the legend from 1635 Storsjöodjuret is said to be the serpent depicted on the stone.
17th century attestations

The earliest description is of a sea/lake-serpent (sjöorm) inhabiting Storsjön, contained in a manuscript by Morten Pedersen Herdal dated to 1635.[14] According to commentators this text ascribed to rune-master Kettil Runske the feat of binding this serpent to the bottom of the lake by carving a magic spell into the Frösö Runestone (erected on Frösö, an island in this lake).[17][d][e]

A version of the legend was also recorded in the group of writings associated with the Rannsakningar efter antikviteter [sv] (‘Researches into Antiquities’),[21][22] specifically in a piece dated 1685 by Anders Plantin (Andreas Plantinus):[f]

"It is said that beneath this [rune]stone lies a dreadfully large head of a serpent and that the body stretches over Storsjön to Knytta [sv] village and Hille Sand[g] where the tail is buried. The serpent was called a and therefore shall this stone be risen. Since no one peacefully could cross [Storsjön], the ferryman and his wife states, along with many others, that in the last turbulent time this stone was tore down and broken in two. As long as this stone laid on the ground many strange things occurred in the water, until the stone was risen and assembled anew".[23]

The Frösö stone has a large serpent depicted on it, but there is no reference about it nor "Kettil Runske (Ketil Runske)" in the text itself, which instead tells about Austmaðr, Guðfastr's son's christening of Jämtland, and with the construction of the Frösö Bridge.[24] Though it has indeed been broken in two pieces.[citation needed]


The folk-legend that circulated around the Jämtland region provided additional details. According to this lore, "A long, long time ago", two trolls named Jata and Kata were on Storsjön's shore, each one brewing his cauldron at the lake for "days, weeks and months", until at last was heard "a groaning sound as if from a sick child" followed by a "loud bang.. as if by a violent thunderclap", and out of one cauldron leaped out a strange creature with a black serpent-like body and a cat-like head, which disappeared into the lake (the trolls and the cauldrons too vanished as well, in a wisp of white smoke, leaving a gaping abyss). The monster dwelling in the lake became a menace to surrounding areas, and grew so big as to encircle the entire island of Frösön and be able to bite its own tail. Then came along Ketil Jamte who bound the beast by carving spells into a stone which was erected on the east shore of Frösön. Parts of the beast were still visible above the water-line, but it is warned that it could be liberated some day when someone deciphers the runestone.[13][25]

The name of the hero may be Ketil Jamte[13] or Ketil Ruske[25] depending on the version. According to one informant, the rune-master was named Gudfast, which thus makes connection with the legendary Austmann Gudfastsson (Austmaðr, Guðfastar son, aforementioned, inscribed on the runestone).[13]

Eyewitness accounts[edit]

There have been hundreds of recorded sightings of Storsjöodjuret dating back to the 19th century.[26] Newspapers reported in July 1857 that workers at the Forssbacka bruk (iron mill) on the lake spotted from far away a creature with a head "black and gleaming", about the size of a large cat's head (Swedish: större katthufwud), with the water movement suggesting it was a sort of sea-serpent.[27][28]

Peter Olsson published an 1899 booklet, documenting 22 eyewitness testimonies, and collated the details in his summary.[29][30][31][h] Olsson, a naturalist, concluded that the most likely match was some aquatic mammal that had yet to be identified.[31]

The monster has been reported by various witnesses to measure on the order of 10 metres (33 ft) in length,[32] the length in Olsson's accounts ranging from 3.5 to 14 meters (converted from the Swedish fot, foot or aln, cubit).[33]

It had a snake-like body, long neck, with some giving the description of a dog-like head,[32][34] thus making it an eared creature, unlike most serpents,[34][35] though some accounts describing as finned[26] is ambiguous as to fins or ears.[36] Some said it had several humps (Swedish: pucklar) on its back,[37][26][32] but Olsson lumped these cases together with "vertical" curvings or undulations (Swedish: buckter).[38]

Capture campaign[edit]

Common interest in the creature was sparked first in the 1890s. After several sightings, an enterprise of locals was founded to catch the monster in 1894,[39] even obtaining the sponsorship of King Oscar II.[40][41] The failed attempt was featured in a satirical cartoon by Albert Engström in the Strix [sv] magazine.[42]

Film footage[edit]

In August 2008, a film crew claimed to have captured Storsjöodjuret on film, reporting that infrared cameras showed an endothermic mass in the lake.[9][40][43]

Protected status[edit]

The only city located by Storsjön, Östersund, celebrated its 200-year anniversary in 1986. That year, the Jämtland county administrative board declared Storsjöodjuret to be an endangered species, and Storsjöodjuret along with its offspring and nest became protected by law. The law was revoked in 2005, with the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO/Justitieombudsmannen) spearheading the criticism.[44][45][7]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ Or possibly "great monster of the lake", since Bonniers Lexikon (1966) defines Storsjöodjur as "benämning på stora sjöormen".[1]
  2. ^ Quennerstedt, August (1 June 1899) Olaus Magnus såsom skildrare af Nordens djurlif is the earliest instance of use given in the Svenska akademiens ordbok, though Olsson (1899) is also listed.
  3. ^ In the local Jamtish dialect it has been named Storgläffs'n ‘the great yelper’ by a locally known poet, this is however not a popularly used name.[citation needed]
  4. ^ The spelling "Pederson" is given by 19th and 20th century sources,[15][14] but the identification of the manuscript is cited by them to Sandvig (1779) Samlinger til den Danske Historie, which gives "Pedersen" (and "Kield Runske" for the rune-master's name).[18]
  5. ^ Ole Worm in the near contemporaneous commentary on the runestone remarks on a similar legend citing Saxo, but does not name the wizard (Magus).[19]
  6. ^ The Rannsakningar was the Swedish crown's effort during the 17th century to catalogue objects of antiquities. Anders Plantin was a häradshövding [sv] or district circuit judge.
  7. ^ Hillsand [sv] perhaps(?), which is a village farther north in Jämtland.
  8. ^ Olsson's book contains many illustrations of sea-serpents from other sources, but not any of Storsjöodjuret; the cover drawing is the head portion close-up of the sea-serpent reported by the English ship Daedalus.


  1. ^ a b Svenska akademien ordbok (1991), s. v. "STOR, (I 1 a) -SJÖ-ODJUR.".
  2. ^ Björkman, Carl Gustaf (1889), ed., Svensk-engelsk ordbok s. v. "odjur"
  3. ^ Sunden, D. A. (1892), ed., Ordbok öfver svenska språket 2 s. v. "odjur"
  4. ^ Thelander, Mats (1996), "Om o-avledningar i o-avledningar i norrländska mål" [On o-derivations in northern Swedish dialects], Svenska landsmål och svenskt folkliv, 118 (321): 381–389 (in Swedish, followed by summary in English)
  5. ^ Since the o-prefix in Swedish is a negation, like the English "un-".[4]
  6. ^ Eason, Cassandra (2008). Fabulous Creatures, Mythical Monsters, and Animal Power Symbols: A Handbook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 138. ISBN 9780275994259.
  7. ^ a b Dewey, Donald (Summer 2004). "Bad Day for Storsie: Sweden's own Loch Ness monster has been removed from the government's endangered-species list". Scandinavian Review. 92 (1): 83–88.
  8. ^ Skjelsvik, Elizabeth (1960). "Norwegian Lake and Sea Monsters". Scandinavian Review. 7: 42–43.
  9. ^ a b "Sweden's Loch Ness monster possibly caught on camera". Agence France-Presse. 29 August 2008. Archived from the original on 11 September 2008 – via Yahoo.
  10. ^ Meurger & Gagnon (1988), pp. 32, 95.
  11. ^ Oscarsson, Ulla [in Swedish] (2000) [1986]. Storsjöodjuret: The Great Lake Monster. Bell, David (tr.). Östersund: Jämtlands läns museum. ISBN 91-7948-157-4.
  12. ^ "Visste ni detta om Östersund?" (in Swedish). Östersund Tourist- & Conference Office. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  13. ^ a b c d Westin, L. O. (1916), "Storsjöormen", Jämten: föreningen Jämtslöjds, Östersund, vol. 10, pp. 69–70
  14. ^ a b c Enqvist (1938), p. 168.
  15. ^ a b Sällskapet för nyttiga Kunskapers spridande [The Society for the Dissemination of Useful Knowledge] [in Swedish], ed. (1842). Sägner om Kettil Runske. Läsning för svenska folket (in Swedish). Vol. 8. Stockholm: P. A. Norstedt & Söner. p. 184.
  16. ^ Wall, Jan (1979). "Sjöormar i nordisk tro och dikt". Etnologiska Institutionen Vid Uppsala Universitet. Meddelanden. 13: 16.
  17. ^ Paragraph quoted or paraphrased from the Morten Pedersen Herdal ms. of 1635,[15] requoted by Enqvist and by Wall.[14][16]
  18. ^ Sandvig, Bertel Christian [in Danish], ed. (1779). Samlinger til den Danske Historie (in Danish). Vol. 1. Copenhagen: A.H. Godiche. p. 117, note (d).
  19. ^ Worm, Ole (1643). Danicorum monumentorum libri sex (in Latin). Copenhagen: Apud Ioachimum Moltkenium. p. 522.
  20. ^ Ljunggren, Karl Gustav [K.G.L.] [in Swedish] (1960). "Litteraturkrönika (review of Rannsakningar efter antikviteter )". Arkiv för nordisk filologi. 75: 301.
  21. ^ Ståhle (1960) Rannsakningar efter antikviteter, Bd. 1, H. 1, p. 257, apud K. G. Ljunggren's review.[20]
  22. ^ Welinder (2004), p. 201.
  23. ^ Sundberg, Jan-Ove [in Swedish] (1995). Storsjöodjuret, Seljordsormen, Nessie och andra sjömonster (in Swedish). Södertälje: Larsons Förlag. p. 17.
  24. ^ Antonsson, Haki (2020), "Viking-Age Scandinavia: Identities, Communities and Kingdoms", in Lindskog, Annika; Stougaard-Nielsen, Jakob (eds.), Introduction to Nordic Cultures, UCL Press, pp. 18–20, doi:10.2307/j.ctv13xprms.7, ISBN 9781787353992, JSTOR j.ctv13xprms.7
  25. ^ a b "Jata and Kata". Archived from the original on 2008-08-31. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  26. ^ a b c d Sandelin, Erik; Unsworn Industries (2014), Cederholm, Erika Andersson; Björck, Amelie; Jennbert, Kristina; Lönngren, Ann-Sofie (eds.), "Eating E.T.", Exploring the Ani al Turn: Human-Animal Relations in Science, Society and Culture, Lund: Pufendorfinstitutet, p. 50, CiteSeerX
  27. ^ "Geste den 9 Juli". Norrlands-Posten. 9 July 1857.
  28. ^ "Landsorterna". Stockholms Dagblad. 14 July 1857.
  29. ^ Olsson (1899).
  30. ^ Heuvelmans, Bernard (2010) [2007]. Hopkins, Peter Gwynvay (ed.). The Natural History of Hidden Animals. Translated by Paul, Kegan. Routledge. p. 142?. ISBN 9781317845683.
  31. ^ a b Meurger, Michel [in French] (1996). "The Lindorms of Småland". Arv: 96. ISBN 9789122016731.
  32. ^ a b c "(Ur arkivet) SvD 1894: "Storsjöodjuret åter framme!"". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 21 April 2019.
  33. ^ Olsson (1899), p. 25.
  34. ^ a b Olsson (1899), p. 26. #8 and #11 described as dog-like heads. Example #8 »Hufvudet var rundt, glatt och hårdt likt en hunds;..». Example #11 (13 October 1893) at Åssjön (eastern part of Storsjön), by two girls, Karin and Märta, »Hufvudet var rundt, glatt och hårdt likt en hunds;..». Torso was 8 to 9 feet, it had fins instead of forelegs and large ears also.
  35. ^ Meurger & Gagnon (1988), pp. 34.
  36. ^ Olsson (1899), p. 26.
  37. ^ Olsson (1899). #10 humps or dorsal fins. #20 few humps, #22, middle hump rising slightly higher from water.
  38. ^ Olsson (1899), p. 33, naming ex. 5, 10, 12, 15 20, 22)
  39. ^ Meurger & Gagnon (1988), pp. 32, 142.
  40. ^ a b Landes, David (28 August 2008). "Swedish sea monster 'caught on film'". The Local.
  41. ^ "Storsjöodjuret fångat på film". Expressen (in Swedish). 27 August 2008.
  42. ^ Meurger & Gagnon (1988), p. 32.
  43. ^ "Storsjöodjuret fångat på film". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). 27 August 2008.
  44. ^ "Fridlysningen". Archived from the original on July 26, 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-10., quoting Berggren (2005)
  45. ^ Sandelin (2014),[26] citing Berggren (2004), recte Berggren (2005).

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