Thór Magnússon, former general director of the National Museum of Iceland, wrote in a letter published in Morgunbladid today about a tour organized by Haunted Walks Reykjavík where the guide made up a story about his late half-sister.
A relative of Magnússon’s had participated in the walk, which took place on November 13, and recited his experience to him.
The guide told participants the story of a young girl, Frída, who had lived in the West Fjords and been sexually abused by her stepfather.
One day ravens lured the girl away from the farm where they lived as it caught fire and her stepfather died. It was believed to be god’s revenge.
The girl moved with her mother to a different farm and once again, ravens lured her away and the farm caught fire. This time, the girl’s sister died and so it was considered the work of the devil.
Shortly afterwards the girl was found dead outside the farm with a fractured skull. It was believed that her mother had killed her because she couldn’t bear having a devil’s child.
Frída is said to have haunted her family and so her bones were unearthed and sent to Reykjavík in a coffin. It was filled with concrete and buried in the old cemetery on Sudurgata and the cross was turned upside down.
Everyone in the West Fjords was said to know this story.
Tour goers were shown the grave in question and Magnússon’s relative recognized it as the grave of Magnússon’s half-sister Frída. When he asked about the origin of the story, he received the following answer from Haunted Walks:
“This is just a concoction from various stories. We stop by an odd grave where a totally different girl is buried and then end the walk with a moment of prayer or meditation to pray for the poor girl.”
Frída Magnúsdóttir was born in Bordeyri in 1932. She died at six from the consequences of a burst appendix and was buried with her grandfather and his wife in the cemetery at Sudurgata in Reykjavík.
The fictional story of Frída’s death has been told to travelers for many years. One of them is former Iceland Review staff writer Eliza Reid, who wrote about participating in one of Haunted Walk’s tours in 2006.
The guide at the time, Jónas Freydal, who initiated the walks, told tour goers that Frída’s grave was the grave of a “devil worshiper.” Reid’s article can be read online on hauntediceland.com and on this website.
Magnússon is deeply disturbed by the stories which Haunted Walks apparently makes up for tourists and asks whether there is nothing in the ethical guidelines of the Iceland Tourist Guide Association that can prevent this demeanor.
He also requests that church authorities prevent such haunted walks from taking place in cemeteries, which should be considered holy and a place where the deceased are protected from fictional ghost stories.