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Preserved Heart of a Norse Giant in an Oaken Casket (5th c)
Preserved Heart of a Norse Giant in an Oaken Casket (5th c)

While going through his famous grandfather's belongings after his passing in 1937, violinist Lars Sigerson discovered this casket with its gruesome contents. It appears to have been passed from generation to generation within his family for hundreds of years. The explanation and whatever story that goes with it has been lost to the ages.

The inscription on the casket is written in old Norse runes and reads:

"Behold! Within this casket lies the heart of the fierce and terrible giant known as Hrungnir, slain this day by Fafrd the Red whose bravery and cunning shall live forever!"

The human heart housed in the box came from a larger than average man, probably one suffering from Gigantism, an oversupply of growth hormone which leads to excessive height and often conditions such as acromegaly. Research indicates it was roughly cut out and preserved with salts, the same process the ancient Norse would use to preserve fish and meat for their Viking voyages and to survive the long winters.

Little is known about Fafrd the Red, who is only mentioned briefly in Eymundar pattr hrings, the Tale of Eymundu. In this tale, he is described only as a tall, red-haired youth with a strong arm and a clever wit.

After studying this item, Sir James Frazer hypothesized that the heart may have birthed the Norse folk tale of The Giant Who Had No Heart in His Body collected by Asbjornsen and Moe in Norwegian Folk Tales (1848).

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