Thursday 3 September 2020

Lindworms- legend or living creature?

The Lindworm

Swedish lindorm or  Danish lindorm 'serpent' is a legendary dragon-like creature or serpent . Sweden has three species of snakes: the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca), the adder (Viperia berus) and the grass snake (Natrix natrix).Denmark and Norway have similar snakes,the only poisonous one being the adder.None of which are large enough to be a lindworm. In modern Scandinavian languages, the cognate lindorm can refer to any 'serpent' or monstrous snake.

The most common description of a lindworm is a wingless creature with a serpent’s body, a dragon-like head, scaled or reptilian skin and two arms ending in claws on the upper body. Its about twenty feet long and thick as a man’s thigh.They slither like a snake but can use the arms to help them.Some spit poison ,deadly  to humans and have a forked tongue. Its eyes are large and saucer-shaped. The tail is short and stubby.Some have manes and a yellow underside.

The belief in lindorms, persisted well into the 19th century. The Swedish folklorist Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius (1818–1889) collected stories of the creatures in Sweden. He met several people in Småland, Sweden that said they had encountered giant snakes, sometimes equipped with a long mane. He gathered around 50 eyewitness reports, and in 1884 he set up a big reward for a captured specimen, dead or alive. Nobody ever claimed the reward .A sample  of the stories :

In the province of Skåne, on a Whitsunday in the 1850s, Elna Olsdotter was on her way to church when she stopped to rest under a big lime tree. An enormous lindworm appeared from within the tree and devoured her.

In another part of Skåne, a little girl and her mother were picking berries near the stump of an old lime tree when the girl saw a huge snake lying in the tree. When she reached to touch it, she was snatched up and eaten.

Some Swedes believed that the lindworm was a huge horse-headed serpent that guarded ancestors’ graves and burial mounds and, when it grew larger, became a sea serpent.

When folklorist Jan-Öjvind Svahn talked about the creature during a TV show in the 1980s, he received accounts from more than twenty people who saw huge unknown animals in the woods.

One woman said that her Uncle Ingvar took her to a place in the backwoods where he grew up that was known as lindworm land. There were several streams that crossed each other and moist moss-covered ground between them.He believed that lindworms were very large eels that were migrating from one stream to another.

So do Lindworms still exist? There could be an unknown species of large snake or as one person suggested large eels that are rarely seen.Or maybe the stories have some truth in them and a large serpent like creature that eats humans is still around.

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