The Half-Century-Old Mystery of the Isdal Woman

A woman's badly burned body is found in a remote Norwegian valley, and over 50 years later we still don’t know who she was. A slew of strange clues along with her manner of death has captured people's attention since the day she was found.

Liam Hall
5 min readMar 21


A forensic drawing on the Isdal Woman — Photo Credit

On November 29, 1970, the body of an unidentified woman was found in a remote area of the Isdalen Valley near Bergen, Norway. The case has become one of Norway’s most enduring mysteries, with investigators still struggling to unravel the woman’s true identity and the circumstances of her death.

The woman’s body was discovered by a man and his two daughters who were hiking in the area. The woman’s badly burned body was barely recognizable. She had apparently died from carbon monoxide poisoning, had enough sleeping pills in her system to thoroughly incapacitate her, and she was surrounded by burned-out matchsticks. Her fingerprints had been sanded off, and the labels had been removed from all of her clothing.

The woman was unprepared for a hike in the freezing wilderness. She was wearing clothes for a much warmer climate or at least wasn’t able to put some warm clothes on before she went out into the cold.

The investigation into the woman’s death quickly became one of Norway’s most extensive and complex investigations. A team of detectives was assigned to the case, and they worked tirelessly to try and uncover the woman’s true identity.

The watch and jewelry discovered at the site of the Isdal Woman’s death — Photo Credit

The woman had used at least eight different fake identities during her travels across Europe, and investigators believe she was a spy or an intelligence operative. In fact, many of the items found with her body suggested that she had been engaged in some kind of clandestine activity. These included a map of two secret military installations in Scotland, as well as various disguises, wigs, and other items used in espionage.

Despite extensive efforts by Norwegian police and international authorities, the identity of the Isdal



Liam Hall

I like to write about crime, among other things. Studying computer security. Join Medium using my referral link