Scandinavian history and folklore are filled with tales of all manner of monsters, rampaging beasts, and deadly creatures of a fantastic nature. Very few, however, were as feared as much as the lethal lindorm. It was a huge, wriggling, snake-like animal that, like today’s lake monsters such as Nessie, Champ, and Ogopogo, chose to live in deep, massive lakes. There was one big difference between the lindorms and other, similar monsters, however. The lindorm never stopped growing. This, rather ironically, was its very own downfall: as it grew bigger and bigger, it got heavier and heavier, something which eventually ensured it could no longer support its own weight and it would sink to the lake bed, unable to ever again move its massive bulk, and where it would eventually die. So the legends went, of course.
Cryptozoologist Dr. Karl Shuker says of the lindorm that they “are semi-dragons inasmuch as they occupy an intermediate echelon in the evolution of the dragon from the serpent. Typically (but not invariably) two-legged and wingless, lindorms have greater affinities with the serpents than with the classical dragons (in contrast, wyverns, which are also semi-dragons, possess not only a pair of legs but also a pair of wings, so they are closer to the classical dragons than to the serpents).”
There are stories in Scandinavian legend of lindorms having a particular hatred of Christian churches and chapels, which they would reportedly coil around and crush into rubble with their powerful, flexible bodies. Perhaps this was a result of the fact that the dragon was a beast revered in pagan times, but far less so when Christianity was brought to Europe. There are also tales of huge bulls reared to fight lindorms – and to the death, no less. Fortunately for the bulls, they were well trained and very often successfully killed the snake-like monstrosities with their powerful horns.
While the lindorm is, today, a creature very much relegated to the world of myth, Scandinavia can boast of being home to a multitude of lake monsters and sea serpents. With that in mind, perhaps the lindorm is still with us, but just under another name. On this same track, the Lindorm is somewhat similar to the mysterious, large “worms” reported in England and Scotland centuries ago.
The River Wear is a sixty-mile-long body of water that dominates much of northern England and which, in medieval times, was said to have been the lair of a marauding, giant worm-like monster – one which provoked unrelenting terror across the land, devouring animals and people, and causing mayhem wherever it crawled and slithered. That is, until its reign of fear was brought to a fatal halt when a brave hero decided that the creature had to die. One person who dug deeply into the strange but engaging saga of what became known as the Lambton Worm was Joseph Jacobs. He was a noted Australian folklorist who, in the 1800s, focused much of his research and writings on the matter of strange creatures and marauding monsters reported throughout the British Isles.
Then, there is the matter of the Linton Worm. A tale that dates back to the 1100s, it tells of a horrific, man-eating, giant, worm-like beast that terrified the good folk of Linton, Roxburghshire, which is located on the Southern Uplands of Scotland. According to the old tales, the Linton Worm was somewhere between ten and twelve feet in length, which, if true, effectively rules out any known British animal – wild or domestic – as being the culprit. Rather oddly, so the old legend went, the huge worm had two homes. In part, it lived in the heart of Linton Loch – a small, boggy area and the ideal place for a monster to hide. Its other, dark abode was Linton Hill, which even today is referred to as Worm’s Den, such is the enduring nature of the legend. That the beast apparently had the ability to leave the water and slither across the landscape of Scotland brings to mind the small number of reports of Loch Ness Monsters having occasionally been seen on land.
While there is a great deal of folklore and legend attached to the tales of the Lindorm, just maybe there is a bit of truth too.