The glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull became notorious in 2010 after a sudden and violent eruption, causing havoc to European air traffic and stumping television anchors across the globe as they tried to pronounce its equally intimidating name.
In Iceland however, the volcano was already quite notorious as there, you can find the home of one of the country’s most infamous trolls, Gilitrutt.
A few centuries ago, a young and hardworking sheep farmer lived in the lowlands under Eyjafjallajökull. Recently married to a beautiful local girl, he hoped they could raise sheep and take care of the farm together. However, the girl was quite lazy and paid the farm very little attention, much to the grievance of the young farmer.
One fall morning, the farmer thought he would attempt to enthuse her about her farm work. He gave his wife wool from a freshly reared sheep and asked whether she’d be interested in weaving it into fabric for the summer. The girl promised she would do it, but when fall turned into winter, she hadn’t even touched the wool.
One evening, when the farmer was out working, a large and hefty woman arrived at the farm asking for a small favour. After helping out the woman, the girl asked if she could do some work for her in return—to weave the wool in time for summer.
The woman was happy to oblige, stating she would bring the fabric back to the farm on the first day of summer. However, when the girl asked what she would want as payment for the work, the woman said:
“Not much. If you can guess my name in three attempts, we are even.”
The girl agreed to these terms, and the woman left with the wool.
As the days passed, the farmer began asking about the wool. His wife told him not to concern himself with it as the fabric would be ready on the first day of summer. But when spring rolled in, the girl became increasingly worried; how was she going to guess that woman’s name?
Noticing that his wife was getting more and more upset with each passing day, the farmer asked her what was causing her so much grief. After telling him about her encounter with the large woman, the farmer became frightened. He knew that this was no ordinary woman but a troll… a troll that was planning to kidnap his wife to Eyjafjallajökull volcano if she couldn’t correctly guess her name.
The farmer decided to take a walk, contemplating a solution to his wife’s current predicament. He hiked up Eyjafjallajökull and found a large cave. Inside, he saw a large woman weaving and singing.
“Heigh-heigh and ho-ho. Housewife doesn’t know. Heigh-heigh and hey-hey, Gilitrutt is my name.”
The farmer couldn’t believe his luck! He went home and wrote down the name Gilitrutt on a piece of paper, though decided not to tell his wife what had happened. This, surely, would motivate her to take her farm work seriously?
On the morning of the first day of summer, the young housewife was so distraught, she couldn’t even get dressed. Crying, she bode farewell to her husband, believing that she would be killed in a just few hours. In a moment of weakness, her husband took pity and told her not to worry. He handed her the piece of paper with the name written on it.
The poor girl was still shaking with fear, and since she was not sure if he’d gotten the name right, she asked him to stay with her when the troll came back with the wool. But her husband said that since she made a deal with the troll alone, she must face the consequences alone, and then he left to tend to his flock.
Shortly thereafter, the girl heard a loud noise and the large woman came bursting in. She threw a bag with the newly woven fabric on the floor and yelled:
“What is my name? Tell me my name now!”.
Scared out of her wits, the girl answers: “Signý?”.
“That is not right. No, that is not right. Guess again, housewife,” answered the troll.
“Is it Ása?” asked the farmer’s wife.
“That is not right. No, that is not right. Guess again, housewife,” demanded the ogress.
The girl took a deep breath and finally asked, “Could it be… Gilitrutt?”
Hearing her name spoken out loud startled Gilitrutt so much that she fell to the floor, causing such a loud bang that the neighbouring farmers thought the volcano had erupted. She then ran up to Eyjafjallajökull’s snowy summit and was never seen, nor heard from again.
Relieved to be alive, the girl vowed that she would become a hard worker. Having learned her lesson, the young wife would weave her own wool forever more.