Medieval Icelandic Sagas

The Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek

13th century, Old Norse.

When Grim kisses the child, her loathly carapace falls away and beneath the hideous skin is revealed Lofthaena herself, in all her beauty.

Grim Shaggy-Cheek was Arrow-Odd’s father and when he was a young man, before Odd was born, he travelled south to Oslo Fjord and was betrothed to Lofthaena, the daughter of one of the royal daughters in those parts. But her mother had since died and seven days before their wedding was due to take place, Lofthaena’s wicked stepmother, out of jealousy, sent her to live as a trollwoman in the far north. When Grim arrived for the wedding, he was told simply that Lofthaena had vanished.

It should be noted straight away that it is clear from other sagas that a trollwoman is a dead woman – which should come as little surprise, really, since it seems likely, after all, that the stepmother had the girl murdered.

Grim is fishing in the far north one season when he comes upon a secluded bay that is inhabited by trolls living in caves. One of these is a hideous child of about seven years old. In a fight with some other men over possession of a beached whale, Grim is left for dead. The hideous child offers to help Grim, but only if he will kiss her. When he does so, the loathly carapace of the seven-year-old child falls away and beneath the hideous skin is revealed Lofthaena herself, in all her beauty.

They return to Oslo Fjord together and settle down in Hrafnista where eventually a baby is born to them whom they name Odd, later to become known as Arrow-Odd.

Commentary and retelling of the story in: the medieval Icelandic saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek, translated by Peter Tunstall.

See for yourself

Icelandic saga – Wikipedia

Legendary sagas – Wikipedia

Gríms saga loðinkinna – Wikipedia

Hålogaland – Wikipedia

The Saga of Grim Shaggy-Cheek – Modern English translation by Peter Tunstall, 2005.

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