'The great Sea Serpent, according to different Descriptions', 1755.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving of the Kraken alongside a sailing ship, derived from similar earlier engravings, the earliest of which date from the 16th century. From Erich Pontoppidan's (1698-1764) 'The Natural History of Norway', the only English translation of the work, published in London in 1755. Pontoppidan wrote: 'Amongst the many great things that are in the ocean...is the Kraken. This creature is the largest and most surprizing of all the animal creation'. Although huge sea-serpents off Norway's coasts had been described before, this was the first time they were called 'The Kraken'. The word was thus introduced into the English language and in 1830 Tennyson wrote a poem entitled 'Kraken': 'Far, far beneath the abysmal sea,…The Kraken sleepeth'.