Nykur is a mythical beast of Scandinavian folklore, often depicted as an aquatic monster that takes the shape of a gray, horse-like creature but with inverted hoofs.
Able to transform into many shapes, the legendary Nykur (also known as the “Nix” in English) generally appears on the lakeshore, with half its body in the water, and looks to be quite tame to its unsuspecting victims.
In fact, it uses its beauty to lure passersby to pet and mount it, and once an unsuspecting man, woman, or child does so, the creature’s sticky skin traps them as it drags them down to the bottom of the lake to drown.
This legend is mostly told by parents of small children, to scare them away from the edge of dangerous bodies of water.
However, the Nykur’s one weakness is that if someone calls its name aloud, the creature will lose all of its power and retreat to the depths from which it came.
The Faroese legends say that once, a small child happened to see a Nykur roaming through the shallow water of Lake Sørvágsvatn while he was out playing.
In awe of the beast’s beauty, the child approached the Nykur. He wanted his brother, Niklas, to see the pretty horse as well, so he called out to him. Since the child was still small and unable to speak properly, he accidentally shouted the word “Nykur” instead of “Niklas” (or Nix instead of Nick, depending the version of the story you heard).
Thus having spoken the name, the creature lost all its power and returned to the deep cold waters of lake Sørvágsvatn to try its luck another day, and the children were saved.
Another tale tells the story of a clergyman who was on his way from Miðvágur to Sørvágur. On his way he met a beautiful woman who was sitting on a rock, combing her hair. He immediately knew it was the nix, and took a pebble in his hand and threw it towards the nix. The stone turned into a big rock. He then starting chanting at him, and told him to go into the rock.
The nix has not been seen since, but the rock can still be seen close to the village Vatnsoyrar. And, If you put your ear against it, you can still hear the nix begging to get out.
Either way, on the island of Vágar in the Faroe Islands, a silver statue of the mythical Nykur rises from the northern tip of Lake Sørvágsvatn.
The statue was created by local artist Pól Skarðenni, and appeared in the waters of the lake in 2017.
The artist lives in the village of Vatnsoyrar and is especially known for his landscape and nature paintings.
Nearby, a plaque tells the legend of this sinister beast.
You have to pass this statue if you are heading to Torshavn from the Vágar airport, and It is well visible from main road. There is also a turn off to access the lake and get a closer look.
Images from web – Google Research