DO YOU REMEMBER THE LEGEND?

T he merman looks like a human being but is smaller and has long fingers. He lives on the bottom of the sea and hurts fishermen by dismantling bate off the fishing hooks and by fixing the hooks to the bottom of the sea, so that the handline breaks. If the merman gets stuck to a hook, he manages to loosen the hooks from the snell, and this saves the merman from being hauled into the boat, like fish.

Once when the merman was being mischievous at the bottom of the sea, it did not go according to his plan. He had planned to hold on to the farmer Anfinn’s snell and to attach the hook to the bottom of the sea, but Anfinn suddenly turned around and fastened the merman’s hand to the hook. With only one hand the seaman couldn’t get rid of the snell, and therefore he was hauled up to the surface, the sign of the cross was made, and he was brought ashore.

Anfinn kept the merman by the fireplace in his house, and every night he had to remember to make the sign of the cross over the four corners of the fireplace, where the merman was kept. The merman would not eat anything other than bate. When they went fishing, they brought the merman, but they had to remember to make the sign of the cross upon him when he had boarded the boat. As they rowed above a shoal of fish, the merman would laugh and play in the boat, and if they threw out the handline, they would catch lots of fish, especially if the merman dipped his finger in the sea. Anfinn kept the merman for a long time. One day, when there was heavy surf, they dragged out the boat to go fishing, but they forgot to make the sign of the cross over the merman and the boat. When they had rowed the boat for a while, the seaman slipped overboard and of course they never found him again.

PRESERVING THE LEGEND

I n autumn 2016, the village council of Eldevig decided that they should elect people in a committee to work towards preserving the legend about the merman (Marmennilin). The committee consists of these members: Rasmus N. Hansen, Dánial Martin Hansen and Rodmundur Nielsen.

The committee undertook the task in the autumn in 2016 and the first step was to find an artist who would undertake the task of making a statue that would illuminate the legend of the merman. Early in 2017 the artist Hans Pauli Olsen accepted this task. The statue will be cast in bronze with a base of basalt or granite. In the summer of 2017, Hans Pauli came up with a very exciting presentation.
It is extremely positive to work with an experienced artist like Hans Pauli Olsen and the committee feels honoured that he has undertaken this project.

Together with Hans Pauli Olsen the committee has found the best suited place for the statue, and it will be situated below the church close to the stone beach, called Urðin.

In December in 2017 the financial plan was made, and the project is expected to cost 730,000 kr. The committee has begun seeking funds, so the project can be carried out. The municipality in Runavík (Runavíkar kommuna) has shown the project great interest and will provide support around the practical work of carrying out the project.

The project can be supported financially by depositing money into account 6460-5769029 in BankNordik.

THE UNWRITTEN STORY

O ne day, the farmer Anfinn and his sons went out fishing on the North Sea in a rowingboat. Suddenly a snowstorm appeared from the northeast and they weren’t able to see further than to the stem of the boat. Anfinn shifted direction and they tried their best to sail towards Djúpini, but failed. The first thing they saw when able to see again, was a vertical cliff and very heavy surf (brim): They had come to the westside of Rivtanga – Vestara Brúgvabarm. It wasn’t possible to get out of the cove again, so quick thinking was necessary (Faroese proverb: Nú vóru góð ráð dýr = good advice can save lives). Brúgvin, which is the highest sea stack (cliff) in the Faroe Islands, stood so steep in the cove, but on the side facing land there was a small halt in the wind, just enough for Anfinn to find it possible for them to climb ashore just there and then. This was done and all men ascended and worked their way up through the steep clifs, which since have been called Annfinniskortur. But they lost the boat.

The farmer in Funning and Anfinnur were good friends, and the farmer heard that Anfinnur had not returned home from the fishing trip. Another source says that the farmer in Funningi dreamt that Anfinn and his sons were sheltering in the cliffs of Vestara Brúvabarmi. The farmer from Funning immediately took his horse and rode to Gjógv, and then he rode along the top of the cliff edge all the way to Ambadal. He constantly looked down and at last he saw Anfinn and his sons in the mountain cliff. They did not manage to make contact, because the storm from northeast was so forceful through the valley. The farmer from Funningi made a vault-face, rode home and took a whole dried sheep from his storehouse (hjallur), got back onto the horse and hurried back to Ambadal. From the edge of the cliff he threw the sheep carcase over the slope and managed it so well that Anfinn and his sons caught the sheep carcase, and this saved their lives.

 

The storm from the northeast lasted for days, so a few days passed by, before the farmer from Funningi was able to set afloat his boat and sail westward to save the men. It went well for the farmer from Funning to save them, and great was the joy in Eldevig, when they saw the crowded boat coming in towards the village. Everyone came down to the beach to greet them. Many groaned over how terrible it had been for them the previous days and how badly off they were. But one of Anfinn’s sons exclaimed: “No. I’m going to show you that we’re not badly off!” Then he picked up a big stone with one hand and carried it up to the field. The stone was so heavy that only the strongest men could lift it – with both hands. Since then, the stone is named “Anfinn’s Hav.” (The heavy rock has been is weighed a while ago and now weighs 438 pounds).

 

A little about Anfinniskort
Búgvin is as said to be the highest cliff in the Faroe Islands – 188 meters tall – and Anfinniskort is on the western side towards the mainland. The cliffs, which are formed as a deep broad cave in Búgvin, are named after the farmer Anfinn from Elduvík, who lived around the 1600s. His is therefore one of the eldest place names (toponyms) in Búgvin. The above legend has always been linked with the place name and has therefore been preserved through oral traditions in Gjógv through the ages. If the story has been written down, we would love to hear about it.
It is remarkable that the linguistic phenomenon Anfinniskortur has been preserved, and not as you would think nowadays, Anfinnsskortur. Here the dative case has been used, and thus is an example of as so often before, that it is not worth sticking to cold language rules when it comes to place names.

INTRIGUING RESEARCH

A ccording to the legend a farmer called Anfinn and his sons have lived in the Faroe Islands. Research has been done to prove that these men have been alive, and they have. It is assumed that the farmer Anfinn was born in 1575, and so far, seven of his sons have been found. Their names are: Jákup, Jógvan, Petur, Ísakur, Niclas, Óli and the youngest one was called Gutti. The legend says that there were eight brothers, but there are only seven to be found in the Lawbooks (Løgtingsbøkur, 1615).
As this happened 400 years ago, it isn’t easy to find material about people from this period. The Eysturoyar Church Books, which are the eldest in the Faroe Islands, start from 1687, but fortunately Anfinn’s sons have been very active, because they are mentioned in the Tingbook too, and the first dates are from 1615. In these books there is evidence that these men have been alive.
The farmer Anfinn was named Andfind Jacobsen. He was the son of Jacob (Jákup) Joensen, farmer in Eldevig. Jacob’s parents were called Gyðja and Jákup Poulsen, farmer in Eldevig. This Gyðja, who was Anfinn’s grandmother, was the daughter of the lagman, Jon Heinason. This then means, that she was the grandchild of Heini Havreka.

On August 21st in 1623, a man from Eldevig is in court. His name is Jacob Joensen and he is accused of stabbing Samuel Anthonius, his brother-in-law, three times with a knife. When Jacob is interrogated about this, he answers that he cannot deny this, but it was done while he was drunk, and he was therefore not fully conscious. There were some men who were called Borgesmen, who paid a ransom for Jacob Joensen. They had to pay “Eighty Faroese Gylden” on his behalf, and they had to assure that nothing would happen to Samuel Anthoniussen, and had to make sure that Jacob would never return to court.
These men were Michel Joensen, Lamhauge, Heine Hansen on Velbastad, Joen Thommesøn, Johannes Thorloffsen and Andfinn Jacobsen.
In other cases, the farmer Anfinn is seen as an enforcer of the law.

Farmer Anfinn’s nine sons

1. Jacob son of Andfind (Andfindsen), who is the eldest of the sons, also enforces the law, e.g. 15th of 1667. Another time in 1667, it is Joen Poffuelsen in Oyndarfjord who blames his farmhand (húskallur) for not attending the spring Ting. He accused his farmhand of not attending to his duties. In court Jákup Anfinson testifies that Joen Poulsen was to blame that the farmhand did not attend and Jógvan (Joen) was sentenced to pay the fine himself.
On the 25th of June there is a case about a sea-chest, that men found while fishing at sea. The sea-chest was very heavy, and they carried it up to Óli Magnussen’s stone house. At night, Óli and Jacob son of Óli broke up the sea-chest. They took “A Little Packet of Paper with some Small Stones and Some Old Silver Buttons and Two Small Lions made of Christal.”

The two men testified in court that they, Ole Magnussen and Jacob Olessen, as well as Daniel Poffuelsen and Jacob Andfindsen’s wives, named Marion Pedersdatter and Magga Oluffsdatter, reopened the sea-chest and took a large dress made of red silk yarn, and two shirts, two pairs of linen trousers, and they shared it. Dánjal Poulsen and Jakup Andfindsen said in court that they could not deny that their wives had attended the second opening of the sea-chest. The order was that Jacob Olsen and Ole Magnussen, who twice had broken into the sea-chest, must lose their land and be punished by their wealth. However, this was pardoned “with H.K.M. the permission of the Ombudsman and the praise of good people who assured their honesty.” About Daniel Poulsen and Jacob Andfindsen, who did not even help open the sea-chest – but their wives did – and who did not deny knowing off it, it was said, “Should they have cried out, if the H.K.M. Ombudsman again lets them use the land.” It may seem strange that those, who had participated in this offense, were pardoned twice, and that the other two, who had done nothing, were so harshly condemned, but by doing this the authorities got to overtake their land, which was in their interest.
Jacob Andfindsen was a farmer in Eldevig. Jacob’s wife is probably the enlisted Magga Olufsdatter, who died at the age of 80 in 1697.

2. Jógvan is thought to be next son after Jacob. In 1661 Joen (Jógvan) Andfindsen is found to be an enforcer of the law, and he was listed as a farmer in Elduvík.

3. Little is known about Oli, but he is likely the third son, at least he is one of the eldest sons. In the Lawbook from 1634 Oluff Andfindsen, from Eldevík, and Dorethe Mouritzdatter are mentioned for their first offense in living together without being married. We are not told if this is the woman he later marries.

4. Peter Andfindsen was a farmer in Haldórsvík, and he also is known from a case about a sea-chest. In 1668 some farmers in Haldórdvík – including Peter Andfindsen – met in court over a case about a sea-chest which they found far out at sea. They said they had found the sea-chest and brought it ashore and then sent Peder Andfindsen to the lagman (lawman/løgmann). About the same time, two ships from the Ostindian Company were in Vestmanna.
Peder Andfindsen then testified that the lawyer asked him to go to the head of police, Søren Pedersen, with the sea-chest, but the head of police was not at home that day. A few days later, the police sent a message to Peder Andfindsen and asked him to come to Hoyvík with the mentioned sea-chest. There it was then reopened and in it there were 100 rolls of white “Flowery Silk Material.” Peder Andfindsen witnessed in court that they received a reward, which was “42 Rixdals and 2 pieces of Lerite, at the lenght of 84 Alen in all.” The men testified this and made oaths with upheld fingers. From this it can be seen that Peder Andfindsen has been a trusted man. Another time when he is in court, there is a man called Poffuel Joensen, who “on behalf of his wife, named Sigge Andfindsdatter and on behalf of Peder Andfindsøn, that they would not accuse the quarter of the land that Berent Jacobsen uses as a pledge from Anna Oluffsdatter for a Cow.” Here we see that the mentioned Sigga Andfindsdatter is the farmer Andfinn’s daughter.
5. Isak Andfindsen. On March 4th in 1659, Isak is a government official and he is referred to as a farmer. He is seen twice as a government official, in 1659 and 1660. Isak lived in Sørvági. The text states that on 12th of March in 1673 Isaac testifies in a case against Jacob Danielsen and Joen Heinesen “the elder” about a piece of land that they did not have the right to use. Then Isaac Andfindsen testifies that since he came to Sørvág to live, Joen Heinesen has used this piece of land and has kept 5 ewe-lambs in this outfield.

6. Niclas Andfindsen. We don’t know much about him, but he has probably owned some land because in 1680, “Niclas Andfindsen in Eldevig gave himself and his land to Joen Joensen by the nickname Giøte, with 3 Gylden Land in Quivig and Half Gylden Land in Seblende Østerø.” But on March 15th in 1686, it says: “In court, Joen Isachsen arrived from Sørvág.” This Jógvan (Joen) claimed in court that he had “provided food and clothes for his father’s brother Niclas Andfindsen for 2 years. He also paid for the shroud and the funeral, costing him 9 Faroese gylden.” Here we get some more useful information, because we also know that this Jógvvan Isachsen is the son of Isaac Andfindsen and that the father’s brother, Niclas Andfindsen, has ended his days with his brother’s son called Jógvan. He has therefore not had a pleasant stay with the people he surrendered to and donated his land to. This Jógvan Isaksen was also an enforcer of the law.

7. Gutte Andfindsen. The legend says that Gutte was the youngest of the brothers. He is born in 1631, so the farmer Anfinn has been well over fifty years of age when he was born. On March 16th in 1679, there was a case in court. Gutte Andfindsøn in Elduvík had appealed for Thomas Poffuelsen, his joint-heirs and several other owners for the use of a quarter of the land in Oyrareingir, that they were to inherit. Thomas Poffuelsen met before the court and appealed to the older Gutte Andfindsen, for a quarter of the land in Elduvík, which his father must have bought and which Gutte now wanted to use. As they disagreed, and nothing could be proven, the case was postponed.
In 1681 Gutte was mentioned for fighting and scolding Johannes Joensen, who also was from Elduvík. Gutte Andfindsen died at the age of 60 in 1691.

8. Heine Andfindsen. Nothing is to be found in the Lagting books about Heine. The farmer Anfinn had a farm in Kollafjord (on Heyggi) in 1613-1616 and a farm in Haldórsvík in 1615. His son Peder Andfindsen overtook these farms in 1649. After Peter, a man named Anfind Heinesen took over the farms. He can’t have been Peter’s son, but we guess he is named after his grandfather in Eldevig, and if so, the father must have been called Heine. We know that the name Heine is in the family, because Gyðja, Anfinn the farmer’s grandmother, was the granddaughter of Heine Havreki. Gyðja also had a son named Heine. He was the farmer Anfinn’s uncle. As mentioned earlier this is not well enough documented, but it is imaginable. In addition to being a farmer and the owner of much land in Elduvík, Heine was also a farmer in Haldórsvík and in Kollafjord. Jacob, Joen (Jógvan) and Gutte were all three farmers in Elduvík. Peder was a farmer in Haldórsvík, and Isaac was a farmer in Sørvági, and Niclas owned a little land, which was in Kvívík and at Strendur, so they have been wealthy men.
9. Sigga Andfindsdatter is the only daughter that is mentioned. She was married to Poul Joensen, who was a farmer in Elduvík. He inherited the farm along with his brother-in-law from the farmer Anfinn.

THE FARMER ARNFINN

T he farmer, called Anfinn, has been well known. The legends, that have survived through oral traditions for hundreds of years have proven this. In the book, “From History and Legends,” written by Eyðun Andreassen, these lines are to be found on p. 165: “This Anfinnur er possibly the Andfind Jacobsen, who is mentioned in the court rolls (Jarðabókunum) from 1641/42. He was also a member of the old Faroese Legislative Assembly and the Court of Law” (Originally consisting of 36 and later 48 members).

The famous collectors of legends in the Faroe Islands, V. U. Hammershaimb and Doc. Jakob Jakobsen also mention the farmer Anfinn in their collections. Here is a legend, that Doc. Jakob Jakobsen collected and wrote down. (The language has been modernised to make it more understandable). Gradually we will get to know more about Anfinn and his sons from less acquainted legends.

THE WAKE

One day the farmer in Elduvík, called Anfinnur, was out fishing. Suddenly the weather turned bad and he drifted out of course and came ashore somewhere in the Northern Islands. The trip home was long, and he had to cross several firths. By the time Anfinnur arrived at the stone walls surrounding his home village Elduvík, he heard traditional Faroese dancing – the villagers were gathered for his wake and were drinking funeral ale. They were not expecting him back alive, seen so much time had passed by. Nobody suspected anything before Anfinn trod in and broke up the chain dance. His wife was in the dance ring. Everyone turned quiet and all were ashamed. Anfinnur said, that he very soon understood that he wasn’t deeply grieved.

 

ANFINN AND SONS

Anfinnur had eight sons. One day when they were out fishing in a boat, they found a dead sheep floating in the sea and hauled it onboard. “Mutti, mutti,” the youngest brother Gutti said and this saying now became his proverb, “It had been better if this sheep was my share this evening!” When they arrived back home without any catch, they found a wooden sea-chest that had drifted ashore at Gráastein (some say it was found while they were out at sea fishing). The eldest brother then said to Gutti: “Now you can keep the dead sheep.” He then carried the sea-chest home. It was called the “Pencil-chest” because it was lined with beautiful silk, called pencil (pencil was an old word for silk in those days); A woman’s pencil gown (a long dress) decorated with pearls and precious stones was in the sea-chest along with other beautiful clothing.
This treasure was divided between the older brothers, but the eldest, who was married and lived in Nýggjustovu (the New Cottage) took the pencil gown home to his wife. For three following Easter days his wife went to church wearing the dress. On the third day the priest came and took her hand to lead her up to her church seat, which was the custom at the time, when a woman had given birth. When the priest sees her, he says: “I thought you were a farmer’s wife, but now I see that you are a distinguished lady.” He then turned her and her husband over to the authorities along with the other brothers. They lost their farm, The New Cottage Farm (Nýggjustovugarð).

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Committee

Rasmus N. Hansen

Chairman

Rodmundur Nielsen

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Dánial Martin Hansen

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