The map above shows many of the places in Norway literally named after Hell (Helvete in Norwegian). In total there are over 300 place names recorded by the Norwegian Mapping Authority.
The highest Helvetestinden (or “Hell Peak”) is the 4,500 ft (1371 m). The word hell often appears in compound words such as Helvetesdalen (Valley of Hell), Helvetesdjupet (Depths of Hell) and Helvetesbotn (Bottom of Hell).
The map includes the following geographical place names:
- Mountain features like peaks, valleys, crevices, deadly gorges or desolate screens.
- Bottomless lakes and thundering rivers, unnavigable bays, and lurking underwater shallows.
- Devious skerries hiding in the waves waiting to break you keel and turn you to a feast for the crabs.
- Dark, dense and dead forests from where no man has ever returned.
- Remote waterfalls forever pounding on the bones of those who dared approach them.
- Marshlands waiting to slowly suck you in and silence your cries with its black dead soil.
- That one not very nice farm. You know what I mean.
However, as reddit user spongebob pointed out:
Ironically there is a town in Norway that is actually called “Hell” but it is not on this map because it’s not named after hell.
“The name Hell stems from the Old Norse word hellir, which means “overhang” or “cliff cave”.”
Want to learn more about Norse myths and Norway? Then the following books may be of interest:
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths
- The Norse Myths (The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
- The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe
- Lonely Planet Norway (Travel Guide)
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Except Hel in Norse mythology has nothing to do with the Christian place full of flames and torture.
Irrelevant. Locations in this map have nothing to do with Hel in the first place, but Helvete (‘hell’).
Darren K says
Quite relevant in fact. No concept of Hel before the Christian conversion had anything to do with the flames that are portrayed all around the map, nor with a vilification of the underwater Egyptian creator god Khnum, the Ram-Headed-One, which resulted in the christian image of Satan (lower right corner).
What’s Norse mythology got to do with it? These names all date from after Christianisation.