This is the story explaining the meaning of the symbols depicted in the Seal of Iceland. The symbols show the four guardians of Iceland – the Dragon represents the East, the Bird the north, the Bull represents the West, and the Rock Giant the south.
According to legend, King Harold Gormsson of Denmark decided to expand his kingdom by invading Iceland. He sent one his court magicians to explore that mysterious country, to determine how easy or difficult the task might be.
The magician, taking the form of a whale, swam to Iceland. When he reached it, he spied countless spirits, large and small, inhabiting the hills and mountains of the country. Making his way to the east coast, he reached Vopnafjörður (‘Fjord of Weapons’). There he was met by a huge dragon. The beast was accompanied by many reptiles, worms and lizards.
Turning away, the magician quickly swam north to Eyjafjörður (‘Fjord of Isles’), only to be stopped by a bird so immense, its wings touched the mountains on either side of the valley. Accompanying the bird were myriad other birds of various sizes, large and small.
Frustrated, the magician journeyed west and south, and came to Breiðafjörður (‘Wide Fjord’). Here he was approached by a massive bull. With deafening bellows, and with a vast host of spirits following, the bull waded into the sea.
The magician turned and swam south, hoping he would be able to come ashore at Víkarsskeið (‘The Sands of Vikar’). But it was not to be, for a colossal rock giant, towering over the mountains and wielding an immense iron staff, blocked his way. And the giant was not alone, for behind him were even more giants.
Left with only one option, the magician swam east along the south coast, determined to find a landing place for his king’s fleet. But there were none. He had no choice but to return to King Harold to tell of his failure. And the invasion plans of the King of the Danes came to naught, thanks to the Guardian Spirits of Iceland.