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The Jötunheimr, the Land Of The Giants
The Jötunheimr, the Land Of The Giants

The Jötunheimr, the Land Of The Giants

Franc68Lorient Montaner
1 Review

In the spring of the year 1910, we had embarked on an improbable journey to find the legendary giants of Jötunheimr, the mystical home and realm of the Jötnar. What we would ultimately discover would be a place that no mortal man had ever been, or witnessed before. That was until a local peasant had sworn to have found this unique place. My name is Harold Dankworth, an English archaeologist by profession. I had been sent a correspondence at my home in London, by a fellow colleague from Sweden, whose name was Ludvig Johansson. In that private correspondence, I was asked to join his expedition and quest, for this mysterious place of towering giants. I was reluctant at first to join, due to my lack of belief in tales of supernatural beings, but in the end, I had acquiesced. It was the strange possibility of actually finding this place that had intrigued me to join the expedition, in spite of my scepticism.

Our destination was the boreal forest in northern Sweden known commonly by the locals, as the Taiga. It was known also, for its cold climate and tundra; nevertheless, we were fortunate that it was spring and not winter upon our arrival. The area was dense and covered, with the coniferous and deciduous trees, nearby the region of the native people called the Saami. Their land was called the Sapmi, and they were the oldest surviving ethnic group in the encompassing Nordic countries. The area had plenteous rivers and lakes, as well as minks, otters, warblers, falcons, amongst other animals inhabiting the forest. This was the vicinity were the peasant had seen the giant previously, yet it did not mean that the boreal forest was the Jötunheimr.

Amongst the members of the expedition that had joined us, there were three Swedes by the surnames of Andersson, Karlsson and Nilsson, and a Saami with the name of Ailu. There were six of us in total, and we had planned originally on lasting a month in our exploration if necessary. We were hoping not to have to take that long in locating the home of the giants. These aforementioned men, were all reliable in their abilities and experience. We had entrusted in them our time and effort to assist us in this difficult task we had embarked. Perhaps it was wiser to have employed more men, but whatever danger we would encounter, we had prepared for. None of us had thought we would discover the giant of fables and Nordic tales. What was more reasonable to believe was that we would at least, find a primitive race of giant humans or Neanderthals that were living in this remote region of Sweden undetected.

I had travelled by ship to Sweden, then by train throughout the country, until I had reached the nearest town in the northern part. Thereafter, I was kindly escorted by one of Professor's Johansson men to the region, where we were to embark from the following morning. During the trip on train, I had been pensively musing the correspondence that was sent to me by Professor Johansson. We met in a prior occasion in Stockholm last year, during a conference. He was a creative and intelligent man, however, the account presented to me did not seem to be very credible nor genuine. As an archaeologist, I had been working diligently on newly discovered fossils retrieved from Africa. Sweden was an exotic land, with a picturesque scenery to admire.

Once at the town that Professor Johannson was awaiting me, we went to a log cabin, where the members of the expedition would be staying the night, including myself. I was eager to discuss the journey and possibility of making a new discovery in the name of archaeology. I did notice upon my greeting that he too was anxious to do the same. I was content to see the same ambition in him that I had, despite the difficult challenge that was awaiting us in our attempt. I was not a man to be easily dissuaded, nor was he. We had the right people to accomplish our objective and proper time to assess our situation, when necessary. The only thing that we could not control besides the weather was whether or not, we would locate Jötunheimr.

Our discussion had included the topic of Nordic mythology. He was an avid reader, and I was fascinated by what he had revealed to me. He had mentioned the name of the jötunn, which in Old Norse was a supernatural giant that dwelt, across the boundaries from the Gods and humans in lands, such as Jötunheimr. He also said that in Nordic mythology that were lands located to the north that could not be reached so easily, according to Eddic sources. What I found remarkable was his detailed description of the Ragnarök that spoke about a series of events, including a great battle, foretelling the death of numerous giants, natural disasters, and the submersion of the world in water. After this calamity, the world will rise again and be repopulated by two human survivors, name Lif and Lifthrasir. He had mentioned the bible reference to great giants as well, whose height were 450 feet tall, and a mystical journey to the land of the giants in Scandinavian folktale that included Thor.

There was much about this part of the world that was emerged in countless legends foretold. I was aware of Odin, Loki, and Thor, amongst others. It was facile to be an admirer of Nordic mythology, yet I did not come to Sweden to chase gods or goddesses. When the conversation finally had ended, we had prepared everything for the expedition. The weather was something we could not control, but we were conscious about its unexpected fluctuations. Naturally, we had to take advantage of the good days and take all the equipment that was needed for the expedition, beginning with the proper clothing. The Taiga in spring was a short period of time, like in the autumn.

In the morning, we left the cabin and had started our expedition, without knowing what we would encounter along the way. The morning had progressed favorably, and the weather had cooperated. The landscape as predicted would be challenging, nevertheless, we had the proper guide and the instruments to endure the journey. As we walked forth, I could feel the imposition of the gigantic trees and peaking mountains above. I could see, how one could vanish into this massive mouth of forest and be lost completely. It was incomparable to any forest in England I had seen before. The good thing was that although narrow in form, there were certain paths to select and a general route to take whilst walking.

Once we had entered the vastidity of the boreal forest, we had decided to not stray far off, from the main paths that were commonly known in our maps. The location where the peasant had seen the supposed giant was several kilometres away, from where we had commenced the expedition. Professor Johansson was keen on reaching the location before the sunset. I had brought a compass to measure the direction we were passing through and a pocket watch to check on the time. As we continued ahead, I had the peculiar sense that there was something hidden, within the forest or beyond its mass. To presume it to be Jötunheimr at that moment was truly imaginative in my part, since it was highly unlikely that we would discover it.

Thus, we had stopped for a brief period of time to rest and discuss what we had already seen. Nothing so far had convinced me that there were giants dwelling amongst this forest, but I was hoping to find at least, a fossil or a trace of a race of extinct Neanderthals. That was expecting a lot. During our discussion, the topic of finding a lost race of Neanderthals was introduced and Professor Johansson was intrigued by that possibility. Could a race of beings have survived all of these centuries in a remote area of Sweden? If that was feasible, then their genes would have survived as well, the influx of the arrival of the homo sapiens. That would signify that they were not extinct, as believed to be. To think that a superior race of giants from Norse mythology actually existed, that was difficult to accept.

When we had resumed the expedition, we followed the designated path, until we had arrived at last, at our destined course, which was the place where the local peasant had witnessed the giant. The location was surrounded by massive trees that had protruded over us. I was impressed, yet I quickly realised that I was only in a forest, not in some mystical Eden. We had searched around for immediate clues, such as patent tracks or rummaged branches. The Saami then walked the entire steps the peasant had taken, before he saw the giant. At first, there appeared to be nothing out of the ordinary, until we had stumbled on to an area nearby, where rows of trees were knocked down. There were large footprints.

We had approached the area astonished by the sight of the fallen trees and footprints, even the Saami was in total awe. It was not common to see such worthless destruction, nor that size of footprints. Who could have caused this, and the question we all had was for what purpose? Whose gigantic footprints did these belong to? Professor Johansson was bemused as I was. What logical explanation could we surmise? Was it possible that the fallen trees were the result of human neglect, and the footprints were some kind of unusual markings? The Saami had not agreed with my analysis. He had told us that the forest was too sacred to be destroyed by his people. When I had suggested that outsiders were at fault, he did not agree with that also. He was convinced that the footprints were indeed that of a Jöttun. In the end, there was no solid proof that could display any form of culpability, nor sign of giants.

The sun was setting, and we had determined that we would camp for the night. Although we had lanterns to assist us in the darkness, they were not enough to guide us through the forest in our search. We had gathered at a campfire, when Professor Johansson and I had talked at length, about what we would ultimately discover. He too was pragmatic and a realist. The idea that we could discover lost Neanderthals was more appealing than a fanciful notion of Nordic giants. Even though we were doubtful about finding these giants, it did allow us to chat about them. There was a common mythology shared, between the Norse people and the Saxons of England. The word Jöttun was translated to Ettin in English. Thus, that similarity in mythology was more than ironic.

When we awoke in the morning, we had continued with the expedition. There were countless rows of trees that were knocked down. It was impossible to know exactly the extent of the range of this destruction. We had meticulously examined the huge footprints and were unable to determine their origin. We took measurements and photographs of the footprints, chronicling everything we had discovered. Even though the footprints were huge in size, through the process of our measurements, we had discovered that it was likely that whatever gigantic feet had imprinted these footprints, they did not resemble any animal or beast that roamed this forest. I kept a journal as well for the purpose of detailing our expedition.

Eventually, we had reached a river, whereupon we rested and regained our vigour. There our discussion was centred mainly, on the idea of how could we best elucidate the events that were betiding, and how could we categorise the footprints, without knowing who they had belonged to? As an archaeologist, I was very conscious about what the science world would opine and the general public for that matter. Stories of the yeti and the wild man were commonly known, to the public. Without solid evidence that was indisputable, whatever discovery we could find would be assumed to be a hoax. To beguile the science world was not my objective, nor to beguile the general public.

I was beginning to convince myself that the footprints were actually, from some unknown or unregistered species. To the men that had accompanied us, with the exception of the Saami, they were befuddled by the footprints; yet they were incredulous about mythological giants existing in the boreal forests. This forest was not only located in Sweden, it also had extended to Finland and Russia. The question that was lingering in my mind was, were there giant footprints to be discovered in these countries? Professor Johansson had thought the same thing, and he had made the wise suggestion that after this expedition that perhaps we could visit either country.

After an hour of resting, we had continued the expedition and path that was made by the footprints. In the end, they had led to an open valley. It was the first time that we had breathed air in open space, since we had left the cabin. The footprints had extended to the valley, but where did they extend to? The more that we had examined the footprints, the more the footprints seemed to be, from something of an unusual nature that was becoming more plausible to accept. The Saami was hesitant to go further in the journey. He made a brazen admonition to be heeded. He had warned us that it was better for us to halt the expedition and return, with the evidence that we had already amassed.

This was not acceptable. We had come so far, to return with just mere photographs. Andersson, Karlsson and Nilsson had agreed to continue, since they were being paid handsomely. As for the Saami, Professor Johansson had attempted to convince him of continuing. He knew that the Saami were superstitious people. He too knew that without his guidance, we would be clearly at a disadvantage. Not only in proceeding ahead with the expedition, but in returning back to the cabin. We could not detain him, or order him to continue. The only thing we could do was to attempt to persuade him in another manner. Money was not what would sway him, instead, we had offered him a gift in the form of a rifle. This was enough to convince him.

The fact that we could not find any logical explication about the footprints was making us contemplate the notion that some gigantic beings existed in these parts of northern Sweden, unbeknown to the majority of society. The valley was closer to the entrance to the large mountains we had been observing from afar. If we were to find the end of the trail, we would follow, that would mean we would have to go beyond the mountains. Professor Johansson had instructed the Saami to lead us forth. What exactly would we find on the other side once there? Would anything be discovered that was supernatural? The need to know had brought, an immediate anxiety upon me.

It was obvious to me that if there was ever a genuine place to hide in, this forest and the mountains that laid ahead were indeed, the right place to be concealed surreptitiously. With the bitter winters and short summers and springs. Who from the outside world would want to bear the cold and shortage of the sunlight. I had been once in Siberia on a prior expedition, and my recollection of the weather there was not that pleasant. The thought that something was waiting to be discovered somewhere over those mountains was sufficient to investigate. The journey was starting to wear us down and cause us to conserve more our energy. The only one that appeared less weary was the Saami. That was because he was from these parts of the region.

Once we had climbed the mountains and reached the other side, there was nothing odd about what we had seen. There were a large lake and the continuation of the valley. The footprints had ended there. Apparently, they had just disappeared. Professor Johansson and I were clearly disappointed and baffled. We had come all this way to find that what was lying beyond the mountain range was only the continuation of the valley. Either the giant had walked upon the lake, or he had magically flown away. The only logical explanation was the first. Quickly, we had examined the lake searching for any pertinent clues, such as broken twigs or rocks. Unfortunately, the lake was too deep to find any type of valuable clue.

Thus, we were at a crossroad. What were we to do next, remain or search in another direction? We had decided that it was better to search in another direction for the nonce. From our view, we saw that there were endless rows of tall trees that had led back into the forest. We headed towards the forest again. This time, with the thought that perhaps we would discover something that could lead us to the wandering giant. This was wishful thinking on my part, because we did not possess, any solid evidence to make us suspect that we would find anything concrete nor incontrovertible. My position was that we could establish the fact that the footprints did not abate with the lake and that they somehow had continued somewhere else. Of course, that was extremely difficult to prove in the end.

We had entered the forest with an urgency to find more tracks or footprints. The sun was setting above us and there were dark clouds that hovered. It was an indication of rain. We knew we had to find shelter. We had material to make tents, and set up those tents for the night. There was little we could do at that point to continue forth. We had to bear the rude awakening of the pouring rain that pounded our tents uninterruptedly. During that time, I was conversing with Professor Johansson, about what would be our next step taken. He was uncertain as I was. For a brief moment, I had contemplated on returning to the cabin with what evidence we had collected. We could return, with more men on another successful expedition. He dismissed that idea, sensing that we were on the verge of making a great discovery.

Upon the following morning, we were awakened by the obstreperous thumping of an unabatable noise. The ground had shaken, and we rose to our feet and out of our tents, with a celeritous curiosity. We had looked around our circumjacence, preparing for what we would encounter. Soon, the thumping could be seen. It was a colossal giant that was walking over fallen trees snapped. Immediately, we ran for cover. We were fortunate that we had entered a cave that the Saami had guided us to is nearest location. There, we had observed the giant pass us by, without detecting us. It was an impressive sight to witness. He stood over 400 feet tall and had appeared in constitution to be humanoid. He had two arms, two hands, two feet, two legs, and two eyes. He wore only a grey garment of animal skin that had covered his chest and lower extremities.

He was heading to the lake, where we had recently been at. We left the cave to see where he was heading. He had stopped at the lake to bath in its crystalline waters. If I did not see this with my own eyes, I would not believe this was even possible. I had pondered many things, but I wondered was he the only giant? We had seen his destruction and were uncertain if spotted, what would be his reaction towards us? The Saami had warned us, and once more he reiterated his warning to leave the area. The other men were not certain of continuing as well. Professor Johansson and I were archaeologists, and we knew the importance of this discovery. It was too late to stop then.

We waited for the giant to return to the forest. We had taken photographs of him bathing. He was unaware still of our existence. When he did return, we had focused on where was he going next? Unfortunately, it had begun to rain anew. This time the rain was heavier, and it was accompanied, by flashing lightning and loud thundering. We had retreated to the cave. This meant, we could not follow the giant. Inside the cave we had discussed, whether or not it was prudent to camp in the area, since it did mean it would probably expose us to the giant. For that reason, we made the decision to stay the night in the cave. We brought our materials with us, once the rain had stopped. The giant had left by that time.

Whilst we were inside the cave establishing our belongings, the Saami had stumbled on to another entrance or exit to the cave. He had informed us and we were eager to investigate. Naturally, we were mindful of the presence of the giant lurking around the general vicinity. When we had departed the cave through that exit, we came across the unfathomable view of a dark eeriness and trees that were even bigger than the ones in the boreal forest that resembled spikes. It was utterly incredible to describe, the images we were witnessing at that moment in time. Nothing could have prepared us for what we had discovered. Was this a part of our world, or did we discover a new one that co-existed with ours? It was simply daunting.

The Saami was reluctant to go ahead, and he scurried back into the cave. He went back to the cabin we had embarked from. The others, Andersson, Karlsson and Nilsson had remained. They were aware of the fact that none of us knew how to return to the cabin. Therefore, we had no other choice but to stick together and continue. Had we discovered, at last, the mystic place of Jötunheimr? As we were standing by a tree observing, one of the trees had snatched Karlsson and Andersson, squeezing them tight, until they could not breathe. It was alive. Nilsson had joined us at a nearby rock that was huge, but as he lifted his head, he was snatched by a large bird that took him away. It was now only Professor Johansson, and I left.

The opaque appearance of the landscape of the place had quickly turned into a horror scene. It was a place covered in frigid ice, surrounded by animated crystal trees. The temperature was freezing. There was a narrow path that had led to an enormous castle upon a lone mountain. We were a few kilometres away from the cave and from the castle. Professor Johansson had wanted us to enter, but I was not that persuaded. If this was Jötunheimr, the home of the Jötun, then where was he at? Were they more of them to be visibly seen? There were pillars of steps that were massive in size. Had Odin, Loki, and Thor once dwelt in this celestial abode? Had the Norse gods existed after all, and I had discovered the place that was beyond the Midgard? Whatever this mysterious place was in its origin, it was definitely not conjured, but real.

We waited for the thurse to appear. When he finally did, he was holding a horn in his right hand. He then blew the horn, causing us to fall to the ground, covering our ears. It had felt like a puissant breath of a turbulent wind that passed. I did not know, if he was summoning someone or something. It was unclear from our position. Afterwards, the giant headed towards the other side of the mountains. It was the moment that we could either escape back into the cave or enter the house of the giant. We had decided to enter, but at our discretion. Inside the house, there were gigantic rows of treasures. All were too big to be retrieved by us small humans. I told the professor that it was better to leave the house and return back to the cave, since we did not know when the giant would return.

I had felt inside the home, like a small ant. We were in comparison to the giant the size of an ant, and that did not assuage my concern. Outside the image was a place of a cold, vast land of towering forests, mighty mountains, frozen rivers, and drear caverns that were abundant. Whoever this giant was in name or status, it was obvious that he had accumulated a trove of valuables. He also had trophies of large animals on display. Could such a primitive being I had wondered be so adept to adapt to the evolving world of the Earth, without the necessity to interact with humans? Or were humans hunted like prey? What would a giant require from our world? What was factual was that he went to and fro from his volition.

After realising that we were at a disadvantage, he had acquiesced. We then went to the cave, but the giant had returned and saw us from several kilometres afar, as we left the house. We ran as fast as we could, through the cave and came out in the forest we had known. We had passed the lake, until we had reached the mountain. It was there were Professor Johansson would slip and fall to his death below. As that was occurring, the giant had arrived. Instantly, I hid behind a boulder. My heart had beat fast and there was sweat pouring down my face. Instinctively I knew that I would meet the same fate as the others. I managed from my angle to take one photograph of him. After several minutes had passed, the giant had left, as it began to rain. It had seemed to me that he was not fond of the rain. Trepidation had consumed me, as I was soaked.

It was impossible to describe with mere words or attempt with accurate details, the experience that had bechanced. It was an inexplicable occurrence that had no form of definition, except surreal in nature. How could it be determined to be a plausibility? I was once incredulous of the extranormal phenomena of the world, for there was no incontrovertible evidence in their correlation. After furthur deliberation and witnessing my encounter with the giant, I had to bear the burden of my obstinate reluctance. Such admission of the facts could no longer be dismissed, with my imprudence. The giant was no apparent hallucination. He was alive, as I was in composition. I had to recompose myself afterwards, and I did. There was no time to be overtly overwhelmed nor overwrought, with jangled nerves.

I was not able to save the professor and the others. This had brought tremendous guilt within me. I was the one that had brought them here in this expedition, in the first place. I had to persevere in my predicament. There was no other option, but to survive and I did. Somehow, I was able to return back to the cabin and civilisation on my own. I do not know how I survived nor returned, without any guidance nor map. Perhaps, it was my intuition that had guided me onwards. I was met by the Saami upon my return. I did not blame him for the unnecessary deaths of the others, or chide him about his cowardice retreat. I merely thanked him for his service, but he did offer another poignant warning to me.

What he had warned me this time was to never return to that place of giants. I looked into his eyes and had sensed that he was serious. I could not leave, before asking one significant question that I wanted to know an answer from him. I had asked him directly, had we found at last, the Jötunheimr? He responded by telling me that we did, yet there was one more thing that he had added to his response. What was that one thing you may enquire? He had already known that it existed, but he said that there were more giants. This had peaked my fascination. Was he merely attempting to distract me, or was he speaking the truth? The answer would have to wait, until the next expedition. The question was when would that take place?

Upon my trip back to England in ship, I had cogitated the scope of the events that had taken place in Sweden. Naturally, I had my journal to verify every instance of my account. The demonstrative images in my head were enough to chronicle their stark illustration. The thing that was consistent with my version was the profusion of irrefutable details, including the minutiae. To prove the existence of Jötunheimr was to be a tall task to overcome. There was so much about what we had seen that had remained a blind mystery. Although we had located the remote home of the giant, we still did not know precisely, the boundaries of its total extent. There was one thing that had given me assurance, and that was, we had traversed the boundary of Jötunheimr with success.

It was admissible to the facts that we had indeed encounter something that was the genuine semblance of Jötunheimr. I remembered in my recollection weeks after the expedition, the remarkable conversations that I had with Professor Johansson at the campsite, before he perished. In particular, the sundry tales about the Nordic gods and goddesses. It was not unthinkable then to fathom the irony of those preternatural beings, since we had created their mythos, in the generations that had passed. For how long have they existed, in the creation of our legends? For innumerable centuries it has been the case, but I wonder deep down in my rumination, whether or not we are an intrinsic part of that mythology? Hitherto, we shall only wonder in speculation. The photographs were never revealed to the public, due to the rain damaging them, but I had retained my journal and knew the whole truth.

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About The Author
Lorient Montaner
About This Story
18 Apr, 2023
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25 mins
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