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The Vikings and the Sagas – a enjoyable and academic tour of South-Iceland

Kjartan, our tour guide and owner of Glacial Experience, and I dressing up as Vikings in a Viking longhouse in Þjórsárdalur valley

“Lastly!”, I mentioned to myself after I noticed a brand new guided tour known as the Viking and the Sagas – a Tour by Historical past. As you who learn my travel-blog know, I’m an avid fan of the Viking heritage of my nation, Iceland, and have written many travel-blogs about this subject. 

I’ve waited ceaselessly for a guided tour devoted to the Vikings and the Sagas, for these of us who wish to get to know extra in regards to the Vikings and be guided to the areas in Iceland, the place the Sagas happened.

Prime picture: Kjartan, our tour information and proprietor of Glacial Expertise, and I dressing up as Vikings in a Viking longhouse in Þjórsárdalur valley

At Þingvellir national park in Iceland

At Þingvellir nationwide park

I joined the Viking and Saga tour so I may introduce it to you and present you what to anticipate. The Viking and Saga tour will take you on an academic and enjoyable spherical of among the essential Viking areas in South Iceland. A component of the tour is devoted to the jewel within the crown of the Sagas, Njálssaga – the Saga of Njáll.

Þingvellir Nationwide ParkLögberg - Þingvellir national park

Lögberg – the Regulation Rock

Our first cease was at Þingvellir nationwide park, the place we have been guided by an important and historic location within the Viking historical past of Iceland. The Vikings based their first parliament again in 930 right here at Þingvellir the place they convened for two weeks in June yearly.

Right here the information will let you know in regards to the Viking parliament – and you’ll even get an opportunity to face in the identical location the place it’s believed that the Regulation Speaker stood when he cited the legal guidelines by coronary heart to the gang at Þingvellir. It’s known as Lögberg or Regulation Rock.

Þingvellir isn’t solely well-known for the Viking parliament, but additionally for the truth that the tectonic plates are seen above floor making a very spectacular panorama.

The Vikings and the Sagas - a fun and educational tour of South-Iceland

Kjartan, our very educated driver-guide, explaining the actions of the tectonic plates to us

Vikings from throughout Iceland met up at Þingvellir, and a few amorous affairs began right here, f.ex. between Gunnar and Hallgerður from the Saga of Njáll.

After getting your coronary heart’s fill of the gorgeous nature and attention-grabbing but morbid historical past of Þingvellir, the information will take you to the gorgeous valley of Þjórsárdalur, by which Iceland’s longest river, Þjórsá glacial river runs. Right here Vikings resided.

On the furthest finish of this fertile valley, you’ll go to a hidden waterfall, Hjálparfoss by identify, or Assist’s Fall. It’s a stunning little gem surrounded by probably the most lovely basalt formations, considered one of which jogs my memory of a bear’s head, which protects this waterfall.Hjálparfoss waterfall

Hjálparfoss waterfall

Hjálparfoss – Assist’s Fall – is situated in Fossá river and above the waterfall, the river splits in two and floats on either side of an enormous basalt rock, creating this spectacular little waterfall. Fossá river then joins the glacial river Þjórsá.

See additionally: Háifoss, Granni & Hjálparfoss – the gorgeous Waterfalls in Fossá River in Iceland

Þjóðveldisbærinn – Widespread Wealth FarmÞjóðveldisbærinn turf longhouse

Þjóðveldisbærinn turf longhouse

Even additional into Þjórsárdalur valley, simply across the nook from Hjálparfoss waterfall, you’ll get the possibility to go to a duplicate of an actual Viking longhouse. It’s a reconstruction of a Viking longhouse unearthed a bit additional north, by the identify of Stöng. If you happen to be part of the Hidden Circle tour, it is possible for you to to go to the unique ruins of Stöng.

This very genuine trying reproduction known as Þjóðveldisbærinn Stöng or the Widespread Wealth Farm Stöng, was erected again in 1974-1977, on the 1100th anniversary of the Settlement of Iceland.

A replica of a Viking turf church at Þjóðveldisbærinn

A reproduction of a Viking turf church

Within the 12 months 2000, a small Viking age chapel was erected subsequent to Þjóðveldisbærinn. Church ruins have been found at Stöng and that is what specialists assume it may need regarded like.

This a part of Þjórsárdalur valley acquired severely affected when the closeby volcano Hekla erupted for the primary time for the reason that Settlement of Iceland. The settlement began round 870, give or take a couple of years, and Hekla erupted in 1104, leading to round 22 Viking turf farms and longhouses being buried beneath layers of pumice.

The volcano Hekla dominates this space, however the Vikings had no concept that they have been constructing their farms within the neighborhood of an energetic volcano. It should have been troublesome for them having to maneuver away from this lovely valley.

Inside Þjóðveldisbærinn

Inside Þjóðveldisbærinn

Þjórsárdalur valley was deserted, though some Vikings appear to have lived in it till the Thirteenth century. In 1939 throughout archaeological excavations, many of those Viking farms have been found, however solely the well-preserved ruins of Stöng are on show.

The highway resulting in the ruins is a rocky gravel highway, solely appropriate for 4×4 jeeps, however since 1974 Þjóðveldisbærinn – Widespread Wealth Farm has been open to guests. It’s in a way more handy location, because it have been, with a paved highway all the best way. 

These of you who’ve watched the Sport of Thrones collection will acknowledge it from one of many episodes the place the villagers have been killed by the Wildlings and solely a little bit boy’s life was spared.

See my travel-blog: The Extraordinary Sport of Thrones Places I’ve visited on my Travels in Iceland

Regína and Kjartan dressing up at Þjóðveldisbærinn

We acquired to decorate up in Viking garments – Kjartan and I have been attempting to look a bit fierce within the picture – completely in useless 🙂

Step inside Þjóðveldisbærinn for a peek into Viking historical past and see how the Vikings lived in longhouses with a longfire within the center. Right here you possibly can strive on Viking garments and carry a sword or a knife – it’s a nice picture alternative.

It is a distinctive alternative to see how the Vikings lived means again when in Þjórsárdalur valley. You will see that one other such longhouse on a smaller scale although in West-Iceland at Eiríksstaðir in Haukadalur valley.

Admittance to Þjóðveldisbærinn is included within the worth of the tour.

The Icelandic SagasVikings at the annual Viking festival in Iceland

Vikings on the annual Viking competition in Iceland

The Icelandic Sagas are household sagas, written within the Thirteenth-14 century. They provide us an amazing perception into the lifetime of the Vikings, who settled Iceland and their descendants again within the Ninth-Eleventh century. 

The Sagas give us perception into the lives of the little kids of the Viking settlers and present us what the 2nd and third generations of Vikings in Iceland have been as much as.

These Sagas are precise tales about love and betrayal amongst the Vikings, the code of honour and revenge. And this countless lust for energy that appears to comply with humankind.

Vikings at Culture Night in Reykjavík

Vikings at Tradition Night time in Reykjavíokay

Blood feuds have been an enormous a part of the Sagas; one Viking avenged his household or blood-brother after which one other one avenged his household and so forth, as you possibly can examine in my travel-blog about the primary settler Ingólfur Arnarson and his blood-brother Hjörleifur.

Earlier than the Sagas have been written down the storytellers advised the identical tales many times for the legacies to be carried on. The tales have been lastly written down on calfskin and have become the Sagas as we all know them immediately.  

An old manuscript at the Culture House in Reykjavík

An previous manuscript at the Tradition Home in Reykjavíokay

A lot of them, sadly, have been misplaced, and they could even have been eaten throughout a famine in Iceland. And round 12 of them have been misplaced (not counting bits and items of Sagas) in an amazing fireplace in Copenhagen again in 1728, however thankfully, lots of them have been saved. So now there are 40 Sagas left.

It’s such an amazing loss, because the Sagas are pure gems.

At the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur

On the Saga Centre

The Árni Magnússon (1663-1730) Manuscript Assortment is listed on the UNESCO checklist, the Reminiscence of the World Register. UNESCO describes the Sagas as being “extensively recognised as constituting one of many excessive factors of world literature and nonetheless translated and browse all through the world immediately“.

It isn’t recognized precisely who wrote the Sagas, nevertheless it is believed that the famous Snorri Sturluson, wrote the Saga of Egill

The Saga Centre – the Saga of NjállRegína at the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur

On the Saga Centre

By now it was time to dive head-first into Njálssaga – the Saga of Njáll, the Queen of the Icelandic Sagas. From Þjórsárdalur valley, Kjartan drove us straight to the Saga Centre, which affords an exhibition on the Saga of Njáll. On the Saga Centre, you’ll get acquainted with the characters and essential occasions within the epic Saga of Njáll.

On the Saga Centre, additionally, you will find out about the Vikings and the way they searched for brand new territories of their open Viking ships on the open Atlantic ocean. A few of them settled on this volcanic island means up north, the place they lived and fought the weather and one another. 

At the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur

A Viking ship on the Saga Centre

Right here they needed to survive by harsh winters with drift ice and sudden volcanic eruptions, however they persevered and most of us, who nonetheless stay right here in Iceland, are direct descendants of the Vikings. Kjartan and I are direct descendants of the Vikings, and each the identify Kjartan and the identify of my father, Ragnar, are previous Viking names.

Kjartan and I discovered that we’re additionally associated; third cousins!

These Vikings have been in search of a safer place to stay and to boost their households, however feuds and battles have been to happen on this former peaceable island, the place only some Irish monks had lived earlier than the Vikings arrived.  

At the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur

On the Saga Centre

The Saga of Njáll is the longest one of many Icelandic Viking Sagas and among the finest recognized of the Sagas. It happened across the flip of the millennium in 1,000 in South-Iceland.

It tells the story of two good associates, the Vikings Gunnar and Njáll, and their households. Their wives have been enemies and fairly merciless. It does not finish nicely for them as Gunnar will get killed by his enemies and Njáll will get burned to loss of life in his dwelling collectively together with his spouse and sons.

The Saga of Njáll tells you the story of an influence wrestle, a battle, robust love, and deceit. 

At the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur

The revenge of Okári

The Saga of Njáll took place in South-Iceland – within the Rangárþing area to be extra precise.

The exhibition on the Saga Centre accommodates work, some very graphic Viking fashion work just like the one above, with textual content about the Saga of Njáll.

You’ll spend some half-hour on the exhibition and it’s a lot to soak up, so higher come ready. It’s best to learn up on this topic earlier than becoming a member of the tour to get probably the most out of your go to to the Saga Centre.

The prototype for the Njáll tapestry Njálurefill

The prototype for the Njáll tapestry

Many individuals have learn the Saga of Njáll, which I, in fact, suggest doing, however it’s also possible to learn the retold Saga of Njáll with illustrations, which I at all times discover to be useful to recollect occasions from the Sagas.

I discovered this English model of the Saga of Njáll to be useful earlier than I joined the Vikings and the Icelandic Sagas tour.

You can too flick by the Icelandic Sagas on-line in English, Icelandic, and Outdated Norse. 

Njálurefill - the Njáll tapestry

Njálurefill – the Njáll tapestry

On the Saga Centre, additionally, you will discover Njálurefill – the Njáll tapestry – the place the primary occasions of the Saga of Njáll are sown in a 90-metre lengthy tapestry. The sew used is named “refilsaumur” stitching (Bayeux sew), a sew that was used within the Viking age.

You’ll be able to take a look on the prototype on the Saga Centre. The primary picture above is of 1 a part of the prototype and the second picture is of the Njáll tapestry itself.

I’ve written one other travel-blog in regards to the Saga of Njáll tapestry the place you possibly can see the precise tapestry itself and plenty of extra images:

The Njálurefill Tapestry in South-Iceland and the Saga Centre – the Saga of Njáll

Kjartan trying to pull out the sword in front of the Saga Centre

Kjartan attempting to tug out the sword

Exterior the Saga Centre, you possibly can strive your power; Kjartan tried to tug out the sword with all his would possibly. Even for those who do not handle to tug the sword out of the rock, Excalibur fashion, then it makes for a superb picture 🙂

I like such Viking exhibitions and at all times search them out on my travels in my nation and overseas.

By now I’ve created a protracted travel-blog in regards to the Viking actions in my nation: The Icelandic Vikings – a Checklist of Viking Actions in Iceland immediately which I’ve joined.

Hlíðarendi – the house of GunnarHlíðarendakirkja church in Fljótshlíð South-Iceland

Hlíðarendakirkja church

Subsequent we visited Hlíðarendi, the house of Gunnar Hámundarson and his spouse Hallgerður “langbróokay” Höskuldsdóttir, two of the primary characters of the Saga of Njáll. Gunnar was born in round 940 and died in round 992. Gunnar and Hallgerður had 2 sons, Högni and Grani.

Gunnar at Hlíðarendi, as we name him after we consult with him, was one of many nice warriors of his time, and it’s written within the Sagas that no one was his equal. He’s described as being so agile that he may bounce his personal peak in a full go well with of armour!

At Hlíðarendi you will discover a stupendous church from the place there’s a nice view of the encompassing space. Right here the information will let you know tales in regards to the Viking Gunnar. Gunnar is described as being fairly good-looking, with honest hair, blue eyes, and a straight nostril. He was beneficiant, well mannered and in style.

Hlíðarendi in South-Iceland


Gunnar was killed right here at Hlíðarendi and buried in a grave mound. He selected the destiny of dying in an honourable combat slightly than leaving Iceland as an outlaw. The Saga tells us that when he had been sentenced to exile and was driving to the ship to take him away from his dwelling, his horse tripped.

Gunnar stopped and regarded again at his dwelling, and mentioned:

Fögur er hlíðin svo að mér hefir hún aldrei jafnfögur sýnst, bleikir akrar en slegin tún og mun eg ríða heim aftur og fara hvergi.” 

– that means that due to the fantastic thing about the hill, which to him had by no means regarded as lovely with its fertile fields and newly minimize hayfields, he would experience again dwelling and keep on this lovely place.By Hlíðarendi in Fljótshlíð

By Hlíðarendi

Here’s a well-known incident from the Saga of Njáll simply to point out you the way robust the ladies have been within the Sagas: Gunnar had slapped his spouse Hallgerður “langbróokay” within the face earlier within the Saga and she or he had advised him that she wouldn’t neglect this slap.

So when Gunnar, who was a famend archer, wanted a brand new bowstring for his bow in a life-threatening scenario, he requested his spouse for a lock of her lengthy hair to make use of as a bowstring, so he may defend himself in opposition to his enemies.

Hallgerður had not forgotten the slap she acquired from Gunnar and refused to provide a lock of her hair to her husband – thus contributing to his loss of life!Eyjafjallajökull glacier


There’s a improbable view from Hlíðarendi and right here we’re within the neighborhood of one other energetic volcano!

That’s Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano which erupted again in 2010 and brought about havoc all world wide because the ashes spewing from it stopped air visitors. See how shut we’re to the volcano!

If you happen to stroll up the hill above the church you will notice this data signal about Gunnar at Hlíðarendi.

The information sign at Hliðarendi

The data signal at Hlíðarendi

What I’d love to see at Hlíðarendi, this historic place, is a memorial for Gunnar, perhaps a statue of this nice warrior from the Icelandic Sagas. We Icelanders are typically sluggish in recognizing the significance of our Viking inheritance. That’s the reason I cheered after I lastly noticed a guided tour of Viking areas.

Bergþórshvoll – the house of NjállThe information sign at Bergþórshvoll

Kjartan by the knowledge signal at Bergþórshvoll

Our subsequent cease was at Bergþórshvoll in Vestur-Landeyjar, the previous dwelling of the opposite essential character of the Saga of Njáll, Gunnar’s greatest good friend, Njáll at Bergþórshvoll. Njáll Þorgeirsson was born round 930 and died within the fireplace of Bergþórshvoll round 1010.

That is how Njáll was described within the Saga of Njáll: Njáll was smart and foresighted, gave good recommendation, he was humble and beneficiant. And he solved the issues of the boys searching for his assist.

His sons, alternatively, have been feisty and gained many enemies.

Friðlýstar fornleifar - preserved antiquities at Bergþórshvoll 

Friðlýstar fornleifar – preserved antiquities at Bergþórshvoll 

As I discussed earlier, Njáll and his spouse and sons have been burned to loss of life of their dwelling, that’s the reason the identify of this Saga is The Saga of Burnt Njáll. At Bergþórshvoll our information advised us in regards to the fireplace and the unhappy destiny of Njáll and his household.

I’ve solely touched the floor of the Sagas in my travel-blog, however the professional information will let you know way more and get into particulars in regards to the Saga of Njáll.

Archaeological excavations have taken place at Berþórshvoll to seek for burnt ruins of the previous Viking farm. However seeing that the farm has most certainly at all times been inbuilt the identical location, then they did not discover any burnt ruins of a Viking longhouse. Burnt ruins of outhouses have been excavated, which may be the outhouses of Njáll.

At the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur - reading about the Njálsbrenna fireOn the Saga Centre in Hvolsvöllur – studying in regards to the Njálsbrenna fireplace

Bergþórshvoll was our final cease on this tour earlier than dinner. This lovely day resulted in my favorite restaurant in Iceland, Fjörukráin on the Viking Village, which is a becoming restaurant for a Vikings and Saga tour.

I’m such an amazing fan of the Viking Village that I take all my international company there. I like the Viking theme on the Viking Village and it at all times makes me really feel like I stepped again in time.

Fjörukráin at the Viking Village

Fjörukráin on the Viking Village

Fjörukráin restaurant on the Viking Village is situated within the second oldest home (1841) in Hafnarfjörður city, additionally known as the Viking City and the City of the Elves.

You’ll be able to ask your information to take you on a tour of the premises and take a look at the higher flooring; the entire restaurant may be very ornate and there’s a lot to see and {photograph}.Fjörukráin restaurant at the Viking village

Fjörukráin restaurant on the Viking village

The employees is dressed up as Vikings and sometimes there’s stay music when troubadours stroll from desk to desk and sing probably the most lovely Icelandic songs. I like that a part of the night on the Viking Village 🙂

A improbable 12-hour tour was drawing to an finish and after dinner, our driver/information drove again to the lodge and returned me to my dwelling. I used to be very pleased with this tour and may extremely suggest it 🙂

The sign of the drunken Viking at the Viking Village

The Drunken Viking signal on the Viking Village

See additionally:

The Viking Village within the Viking City Hafnarfjörður in SW-Iceland

The Annual Viking Pageant in Hafnarfjörður City in Iceland

The Icelandic Vikings – a Checklist of Viking Actions in Iceland immediately which I’ve joined

The attractive Fljótshlíð in South-Iceland – the Saga of the Viking Njáll and Gluggafoss 

Regína with Vikings of the Reykjavík Viking Club Einherjar

Greetings from 2 Vikings of the Reykjavíokay Viking Membership, Einherjar

Have a stunning time on The Vikings & the Sagas / A Tour By Historical past – it’s actually a considered one of a form tour ðŸ™‚



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