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A 200-Foot-Long Monster: Truth Or Legend?

Sightings and reports of lake-monsters, sea-serpents and other similar, unidentified creatures date back hundreds of years. Their names include Ogopogo, Manipogo, Champ, the Loch Ness Monster, Morag, and even Big Wally. Yes, I know: the name of the latter beast hardly provokes thoughts of a savage, marauding beast! In fact, Wally sounds quite the opposite. There is also another issue, too. Namely, the incredible size of some of these leviathans of the deep. It’s a fact that most witnesses to sightings of the Loch Ness Monsters describe a creature – from head to tail – only around fifteen-to-thirty-feet in length. Similarly, crypotozoologist Ted Holiday studied a number of cases, from Ireland in the 1960s, in which lake-monsters were seen barely much longer than around ten to twelve feet in length. And, on occasion, the bodies of water in which the monsters were seen were very small, too. Now, I’m going to go in a completely different direction and share with you a story that dates back centuries and that tells of a massive, marauding creature of nothing less than Godzilla-style proportions. With all of that said, we have some amazing and incredible words – dating back centuries – from one Olaus Magnus, the Archbishop of Upsala, Sweden. Just before we get to that, here’s some background on the man himself:

“Olaus Magnus was born in Linköping in October 1490. Like his elder brother, Sweden’s last Catholic archbishop Johannes Magnus, he obtained several ecclesiastical preferments, among them a canonry at Uppsala and Linköping, and the archdeaconry of Strängnäs. He was furthermore employed on various diplomatic services after his mission to Rome in 1524, on behalf of Gustav I of Sweden (Vasa), to procure the appointment of Olaus Magnus’ brother Johannes Magnus as archbishop of Uppsala. He remained abroad dealing with foreign affairs and is known to have sent home a document that contained agreed trade-relations with the Netherlands. With the success of the reformation in Sweden, his attachment to the Catholic church led him to stay abroad for good where he accompanied his brother in Poland. They were both exiled and Magnus’ Swedish belongings were confiscated in 1530.”

Map from Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina

Now, let’s get to the heart of the story. Magnus penned the following, astounding words in 1555. As you will see, some of the wording is very much in old style: “They who in works of navigation on the coasts of Norway employ  themselves in fishing or merchandize do all agree in this strange story, that there is a serpent there which is of a vast magnitude, namely 200 foot long, and moreover, 20 foot thick [italics mine]; and is wont to live in rocks and caves toward the sea-coast about Berge: which will go alone from his holes on a clear night in summer, and devour calves, lambs, and hogs, or else he goes into the sea to feed on octopus, locusts, lobsters, and all sorts of sea-crabs. He hath commonly hair hanging from his neck a cubit long, and sharp scales, and is black, and he hath flaming, shining eyes.” Interestingly, there are more than a few reports of sea-serpents and lake-monsters having hairy manes of the type Magnus described.

The original Sea Orm. Detail from Magnus’s Carta Marina of 1539 showing a bright red monster encircling a ship off the coast of Norway with maelstrom whirling away to the right (Magnification of map shown above)

Magnus continued with his incredible account, which also tells of yet another mighty creature: “This snake disquiets the shippers; and he puts up his head on high like a pillar, and catcheth away men, and he devours them; and this happeneth not but it signifies some wonderful change of the kingdom near at hand; namely, that the princes shall die, or be banished; or some tumultuous wars shall presently follow. There is also another serpent of an incredible magnitude in an island called Moos in the diocess of Hammer; which, as a comet portends a change in all the world, so that portends a change in the kingdom of Norway, as it was seen anno 1522; that lifts himself high above the waters, and rolls himself round like a sphere. This serpent was thought to be fifty cubits long by conjecture, by sight afar off: there followed this the banishment of King Christiernus, and a great persecution of the Bishops; and it shewed also the destruction of the country.”

A genuine massive monster or two? If the story is true, then the answer is a decisive “Yes.”

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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