Kulturportal LUND

 

The legend of Finn the giant

 

Finn 1-2The story of Finn the giant was first written down in 1654 by Jens Lauritzen Wolf, however, before this, it had been passed on by word of mouth from generation to generation. The two pillars in the crypt which incorporate the stone statue of the giant have been interpreted in a number of ways. It is believed that they may represent Samson and Delilah from the Bible. Or even Boaz and Jachin, the two large pillars that stood at the entrance of Solomon’s Temple.

A long, long time ago in the early twelfth century, there lived a monk in Lund by the name of Saint Lawrence or Saint Lars, as he was sometimes called. Saint Lars often preached to the people of Lund on a large open hillside (HELGONABACKEN), which lay a little way outside the city. Beneath the hill lived a giant together with his wife and children. The sermons preached by Saint Lars and all the people who came to listen to him really angered the giant.

One day the giant asked, “Why do you stand here on my hill and disturb my family?” The monk told him that this was because there was no church in Lund and they had nowhere else to go. The giant took pity on the monk and the people and promised to build them a church. However, first Saint Lars had to promise him that as soon as the church was built, Saint Lars would pluck down the moon and the sun and give them to the giant’s children. “No one can pluck down the moon and the sun”, replied the monk. “In that case, you will have to pluck out your eyes instead”, answered the giant

Saint Lars wanted a church so much that he promised to pluck out his eyes. “However,” said the giant, “if you can tell me my name, you may keep your eyes.” Once agreed upon, the giant left to collect stone blocks with which to build the church, from places nearby, which he dragged all the way back to Lund. Slowly Lund Cathedral began to take shape. Meanwhile, Saint Lars walked about wondering, “What can his name be?” “Is your name Gunnar?” he shouted to the giant who was sitting on the roof laying lead tiling. “Is it Philip or Magnus?” But none of these names was the right one.

The cathedral was now almost finished and still Saint Lars had not found the right name. He walked about looking at the forests, the flowers, the sky and everything else that was beautiful, for he knew he would soon be losing his eyes. As he was walking over the hill he heard a mother singing a lullaby to her children. The monk thought it sounded so lovely that he stopped to listen. What was the mother singing? He listened…

"Sleep little Sölve, sleep, oh son of mine,
your father Finn,
sitting there building high up above.
Sleep little Gerda, beautiful daughter of mine,
your father Finn,
will soon be home bearing a gift of love."

"Ah ha! The giant’s name is Finn!” Happily the monk ran down the hillside to the cathedral where he found Finn about to lay the final stone. “Finn, Finn, lay the stone!” shouted Saint Lars. Hearing this, the giant became so angry that he threw away the last stone and rushed down into the crypt. Once there, he grabbed one of the pillars and tried to pull down the cathedral, which he had almost finished. However, his strength suddenly left him and he turned to stone, and perhaps shrank a little too. Should you go down into the crypt, you will find Giant Finn still standing there today hugging that pillar of stone.