Húsafell

Bistró: 435-1550
Hótel: 435-1551

Sundl./swimming pool:

435-1552

Tjaldsvæði/camping:

435-1556


husafell@husafell.is

restaurant@husafell.is

booking@hotelhusafell.is

camping@husafell.is

 Saga

The history of Husafell

The history of Húsafell is long and rich in folklore and legend. The oldest references to the settlement of Húsafell are found in Laxdale Saga, written about 1170. One of Húsafell´s most famous occupants is undoubtedly Snorri Björnsson (priest), who lived there from 1756 to 1803. Books have been written about him, and countless accounts of him exist, some of them smacking strongly of the tall tale. The pens built by Snorri are famous, and so is the so-called Kvíahellan (The Husafell stone), a strenght-testing boulder used to close the pen. For a long time the farm was right on a busy route between the North and the South of Iceland. Because it was the farme´s duty to provide for travellers, the farm often endured a ´plague of visitors´, as it was called. Early in this century, however, things quieted down, but in 1930 the road over Kaldidalur was built and the traffic increased because the main road to the North then passed through Húsafell for a number of years. The church in Húsafell was originally built in about 1170 but it felt into disuse in 1812. The current church was built over the period 1950-1973, based on a drawning by the artist Ásgrímur Jónsson.

 

There is a Historic walk through Húsafell where the following signs has further historic information about the saga of Húsafell

A historic walk through Húsafell

 

A)    Ghost Fold

Just north of the church in Húsafell lies the Ghost Fold (Draugarétt) where Snorri is rumoured to have sent 18 Ghosts back to the Underworld. They were sent to him from Hornstrandir where he served as a priest before he came to Húsafell. Artist Páll Guðmundsson symbolizes this story in a sculpture of Snorri and 18 Ghost Heads on their way into the ground. In another story, Snorri imprisoned ghosts in Ghost Gorge (Draugagil), a rugged ravine to the north of the mountain Strútur.

 

B)    Home Field Fences

The farmer Þorsteinn Magnusson lived in Húsafell from 1875 to 1906. He reformed the land in various ways, including stacking great rock fences around his home fields. Ruins of a watermill built by him can still be seen today west of the fold. Men from other farms brought their corn to the mill for grinding. While the corn was grinding, they worked on stacking the rock fences with Þorsteinn. The remains of the fences can still be seen from Ghost Fold and up to Fox Trap (Tófugildra). The upper part of the fence was to keep the sheep inside the pasture.

 

C)    The Church

Húsafell was first mentioned in the 12th century saga, Eyrbyggja, where it states that Brandur Þórarinsson settled there somewhere around 1170. Twenty three priests are known to have served in Húsafell.  Many of them renowned, but the most famous was the reverend Snorri Björnsson (1711–1803).  A book has been written about him and various legendary tales exist. In catholism, the church in Húsafell was devoted to God Almighty, the Virgin Mary, and Holy Cecily. When rev. Snorri came to Húsafell in 1757, the church and its interiors were in poor condition after six years of hardship. In 1768, rev. Snorri built a new church equal in size to the old one with a new pulpit. This was the last parish church in Húsafell. It was torn down in 1813, but the cemetery was used until 1852. Sometime prior to1930, Jakob Guðmundsson a farm worker in Húsafell, claimed that rev. Snorri appeared to him in a dream where he asked him to prevent animals from trampling on his grave. Jakob built a sturdy fence with a soul gate on the remains of the old cemetery wall. Jakob later became the main spokesman for building a new church which was erected during the period between 1950 and 1973. The design of the church was the idea of the famous painter Ásgrímur Jónsson, but architect Halldór Jónsson created the drawings. The stone artwork in the church is made by the artist Páll Guðmundsson.

 


 

D)    The old Farmhouse

Ástríður Þorsteinsdóttir widow of Þorsteinn Magnússon built the farmhouse in 1908. The road in Cold Valley (Kaldidalur) was cleared and made fit for automobiles in 1929. In 1930, the 1000th anniversary of Alþingi, the oldest active parliament in the world was held in Þingvellir. The road in Kaldidalur was the only road for automobiles coming from the northern part of the country. The number of tourists reached a peak around the anniversary, and was so high that Þorsteinn, the son of Ástríður and Þorsteinn, dedicated some of his servants to the travellers. The old farmhouse was always full of people and even the barn was often used by the travellers. In addition, were long-time visitors, including painters and poets. Painter, Ásgrímur Jónsson, one of the greatest artists in Iceland’s history, stayed in the old farmhouse for many consecutive summers.  He believed that Húsafell offered the country’s nature in a nutshell, and painted there with great enthusiasm. In 1996, farmer Kristleifur of Húsafell, renovated the old farmhouse.  It had fallen into disrepair and had not been used for dwellings since 1963. The renovation was intended to reflect the original look of the house. Today this historical house offers accommodations with 5 double rooms, breakfast and cooking facilities.

 

E)    The Art

Artist Páll Guðmundsson was raised in Húsafell, and is a sixth generation descendant of reverend Snorri. Páll’s interest in Art became apparent in his early years. He was inspired by the presence of the artists visiting Húsafell while observing them at work. He gained a deep knowledge of arts from attending national and foreign art schools, and has been a guest in the major art museums in Europe and America. In his art, Páll uses rock, paper, canvas and bronze. One of his pieces is a lovely sounding stone harp he pieced together using flat stones from Húsafell.

 

F)    The Folds

Reverend Snorri stopped using mountain huts used by his predecessors. Instead, he built the folds using incredibly large stones and used it for milking his sheep. By the folds, he put a flat stone (Kvíahellan) for men to test their strength. The stone weighs 186 kilograms and is difficult to get a grip on. There were three tests of strength. The first was to put the stone onto the wall south of the northern door into the fold. The second test was to lift the stone onto a big stone in the northern wall of the folds. The name Snorri is engraved in that stone. The third and last test was to carry the stone around the Folds.

 

G)   The Ruins of the Mill

West of the folds lie the ruins of the mill built by Þorsteinn Magnússon. The people in Húsafell gathered lava rocks from a quarry in Goat Land (Geitland).  They shaped them into stones that were sold and used in hand mills all around the country as well as in the mill in Húsafell. The quarry was used until the early 20th century. Ruins of another mill built by Þorsteinn Jakobsson, a farmer in Húsafell and the grandson of rev. Snorri, can be found in Mill Creek (Myllulækur) where the golf course is now.

 

H)    The Goat Sheds Ruins

The Goat Sheds stood west above the folds close to the mill. Reverend Snorri kept both goats and sheep for some period of time. The goats gnawed the bark of the birch trees which played a big part in the destruction of the tall forest that used to grow on Mountain Bæjarfell.

 

I)     The Fox Trap

Here you can see a skilfully built fox trap from the days of Þorsteinn Jakobsson, grandson of reverend Snorri. Þorsteinn was a handy man as well as a great hunter. Apparently the trap is a design from Greenland that Þorsteinn read about in an agricultural paper. The trap can still be used for fox hunting.

 

J)   Bæjargil Ravine

From the fox trap, the path leads to Bæjargil Ravine which separates mountain Bæjarfell and mountain Útfjall. A high waterfall is in the Ravine, and to the east of it are the Noon Cliffs (Hádegisklettar). Many types of rock can be found in the ravine.

The residents of Húsafell used to make tombstones, containers, and other items from the red and blue rocks that can be found in various places throughout the ravine. Artist Páll Guðmundsson has gotten a lot of material for his pieces from the ravine. Many strange creatures can be seen there chiselled in rock.