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1001 Stories Collection

Why the Sea is Salty

1001 whytheseaissalty
Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Scandinavian folktale

Europe Folk and fairy tales
1001 , Audio

A folktale that explains how the sea became salty.

Story

The sea wasn’t always salty but when a magic mill is taken on board a ship and set to grind salt disaster follows. The salt keeps flowing but no-one knows how to stop the mill and eventually the weight of the salt takes the ship and the mill to the bottom of the sea.

Why we chose it

Why the Sea is Salty was part of The Story Museum’s original audio collection. These stories are particularly suitable for learning to retell.

Where it came from

There are many versions of the story from Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland, all involving a magic mill, which grinds salt and ends up at the bottom of the sea, generally due to someone’s greed.

Where it went next

A written version can be found in James Riordan’s Stories from the Sea.

Associated stories

There are stories telling why the sea is salty from many countries with a coast. In a story from the Philippines a man has ordered large blocks of salt to be carried across the sea to build a great white mansion. The Ocean is angry at being disturbed and sends a great wave to knock the bricks into the sea – where they dissolved and so the sea is salty. In German and Danish stories a boy has a mill that will grind whatever he asks. A greedy sea captain knocks the boy over board and takes the mill. He sets it to grind salt but doesn’t know how to stop it and finally the ship sinks under the weight of the salt.

Added on 08th July 2020

Oral tradition Scandinavian folktale

Europe Folk and fairy tales
1001 , Audio