Runolfur Runolfsson Case

The Runolfur Runolfsson Case was an unusual case of a Drop-in Communicator who professed to be looking for a missing part of his corpse.

The case took place between 1937 and 1940 and involved one of Iceland’s most famous trance Mediums, Hafsteinn Bjornsson, who at the time was conducting a series of regular Séances with a group of persons in Reykjavík. In the autumn of 1937, an unknown entity dropped in and identified himself by saying, “My name is Jon Jonsson or Madur Mansson. What the hell does it matter to you what my name is?” Asked what he wanted, the entity said, “I am looking for my leg. I want to have my leg.” Asked where his leg might be, he said, “It is in the sea.”

Thereafter, for about one year, the communicator periodically dropped in on Bjornsson, demanding his leg. The personality was crude and pushed other spirits out of the way. He also asked for snuff, rum and coffee, making the medium go through the motions of sniffing, and asking sitters to pour out an extra glass of rum or cup of coffee for him.

It was not until a fish merchant named Ludvik Gudmundsson joined the sittings that progress was made: the entity said Gudmunsson knew about his leg, which was at his house at Sandgerdi. Gudmunsson was perplexed and professed to know nothing.

The entity then gave what he said was his real name and divulged his history. His name was Runolfur Runolfsson, or “Runki” for short, and he had died in October 1879 at the age of 52. He had gone to a friend’s home during a storm and had gotten drunk. He attempted to walk home, but stopped on some rocks by the shore to drink more liquor from the bottle he carried. He passed out and the tide carried him out to sea, where he drowned. His body washed back ashore in January 1880, picked and torn at by birds and animals. The corpse was buried with a thigh bone missing. Now, nearly 60 years later, the entity Runki wanted the bone back.

A search of historical records was made, and the life and death of Runki was verified. Gudmunsson asked around the village for information concerning the possible fate of the thigh bone. Eventually, he discovered that a carpenter who had built the inner walls of his house reportedly had placed a leg bone between two walls.

In 1940, one room of Gudmunsson’s house was torn open and a thigh bone was discovered. It was extraordinarily long, thus supporting Runki’s description of himself as a tall man. Gudmunsson took the bone to his office and kept it for a year in a coffin that he had made for it. The bone was then given a proper religious burial at Utskalar. At a subsequent Séance, Runki said he had been present at the burial and reception and expressed his gratitude. He described the activities in great detail, even including cakes that were served.

Instead of disappearing, Runki stayed in contact with Bjornsson and eventually became one of the medium’s main Controls. Initially, Runki said he liked himself the way he was and did not want to modify his crude ways. Gradually he softened, and helped other discarnate communicators contact the medium.



  • Haraldsson, Erlendur, and Ian Stevenson. “An Experiment with the Icelandic Medium Hafsteinn Bjornsson.” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (SPR)68 (1974): 192–202.———. “A Communicator of the ‘Drop in’ Type in Iceland: The Case of Runolfur Runolfsson.” Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (SPR)69 (1975): 33–59.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007