Medieval Icelandic Sagas
The Saga of Grettir the Strong
14th century, Old Norse.
Grettir intended to find out what he was like, the occupant of this grave-mound whose ghost had been walking the countryside round about.
Soon after dawn, Grettir gathered all the tools his workman had collected and they made their way to the burial mound. Grettir dug into it, shifting a great deal of earth until he came to the timber boards that formed the roof of the cavity. It was nearly sunset as he pulled away a large enough opening for him to squeeze through.
His companion urged him not to go down, but Grettir instructed him to keep a tight hold of the rope, because he intended to find out what he was like, this dead man whose ghost had been walking the countryside round about.
The space inside the mound was black and airless. Grettir stumbled over the bones of a horse. He came upon a large chair upon which he sensed a man was sitting. Around this chair was strewn gold and silver and there was a box full of silver at the foot of the chair. Grettir collected up as much of the treasure as he could and turned to make his way back to the rope when suddenly he felt himself seized by a strong hand. Dropping what he was carrying and turning to face his assailant, he parried a violent attack by the occupant of the burial mound. They grappled with one another, breaking everything around them.
Grettir then drew his sword Jokulsnaut, cut off the head of the howedweller and laid it between his thighs.