World of Tales
Stories for children, folktales, fairy tales and fables from around the world

Finn, the Giant, and the Minster of Lund

Swedish folktale

There stands in the university town of Schonen, the town of Lund, the seat of the first archbishopric in all Scandinavia, a stately Romanic minster, with a large, handsome crypt beneath the choir. The opinion is universal that the minster will never be altogether finished, but that something will always be lacking about the structure. The reason is said to be as follows:

When St. Lawrence came to Lund to preach the Gospel, he wanted to build a church; but did not know how he was to obtain the means to do so.

While he was cudgelling his brains about it, a giant came to him and offered to build the church on condition that St. Lawrence tell him his name before the church was completed. But should St. Lawrence be unable to do so, the giant was to receive either the sun, the moon or St. Lawrence's eyes. The saint agreed to his proposal.

The building of the church made rapid progress, and ere long it was nearly finished. St. Lawrence thought ruefully about his prospects, for he did not know the giant's name; yet at the same time he did not relish losing his eyes. And it happened that while he was walking without the town, much concerned about the outcome of the affair, he grew weary, and sat down on a hill to rest. As he sat there he heard a child crying within the hill, and a woman's voice began to sing:

"Sleep, sleep, my baby dear, To-morrow your father, Finn, will be here; Then sun and moon you shall have from the skies To play with, or else St. Lawrence's eyes."

When St. Lawrence heard that he was happy; for now he knew the giant's name. He ran back quickly to town, and went to the church. There sat the giant on the roof, just about to set the last stone in place, when at that very moment the saint called out:

"Finn, Finn, Take care how you put the stone in!"

Then the giant flung the stone from him, full of rage, said that the church should never be finished, and with that he disappeared. Since then something has always been missing from the church.

Others say that the giant and his wife rushed down into the crypt in their rage, and each seizing a column were about to tear down the church, when they were turned into stone, and may be seen to this day standing beside the columns they had grasped.


"Finn, the Giant, and the Minster of Lund" (retold by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund, after variants in his collection), is the world-famous tale of the giant master-builder, which appears here as a legend, and is connected with various celebrated churches, as for instance the Minster of Drontheim. Its close is an inversion of the motive of guessing a name, which we have already encountered in the Danish fairy-tale "Trillevip."

The Swedish Fairy Book

The Swedish Fairy Book

Notes: Contains 28 Swedish folktales.

Author: Various
Editor: Clara Stroebe
Translator: Frederick H. Martens
Published: 1921
Publisher: Frederick A. Stokes Company

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