History and Culture

Arctic Henge

Set in Raufarhöfn, one of the most remote and northernmost villages in Iceland where the Arctic Circle lies just off the coast, the Arctic Henge (Heimskautsgerðið) is under construction. Similar to its ancient predecessor, Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial, aiming to capture the sunrays, cast shadows in precise locations and capture the light between aligned gateways.

History

Heimskautsgerðið (The Arctic-Henge) has it s roots in the innovators Erlingur Thoroddsen's speculations about the possibility to use endless vistas, where nothing obstructs the horizon, and the midnight sun. The idea to use the dwarf names from the eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress) and modernize some aspects of the old world of the Sagas, soon became a part of these speculations. The first version of the idea is from 1998 but in 2004 it was finalized, with allusions to mythology and folklore, designed to interact with the unique natural light.

No one has been able to explain the dwarfs in the Völuspá, apart from Austri (East), Vestri (West), Norðri (North) and Suðri (South), who carry the sky. By connecting the names of the dwarfs to the season, as for example Bjartur (Bright) Blíður (Sweet) and Svásuður (Gengle) to the summer, it is possible to fit the names of the dwarfs to a yearly circle of 72 weeks. The year-circle of the dwarfs becomes a kind of almanac, where each dwarf controls a five day period. All the dwarfs have been given a role and they have all have their own personalities. This means that the dwarfs can be connected to birthdays and people can connect to their personal dwarf.

Around this made up world rises the Heimskautsgerði (Arctic-Henge) on the Melrakkaás (Foxhill) in Raufarhöfn. The Heimskautsgerði is around 50 meters in diameter, with 6 meter high gates that face the main directions. Between the gates is a high wall with a small opening at the top. Inside the circle stands 10 meter high column on four pillars. The column will be topped with cut prism-glass that splits up the sunlight unto the primary colors. The opening between the pillar look towards the main directions, so example the midnight sun can be seen from the south gate through the middle column and the north gate. The play of light and shadow will follow the time of the day. The openings on the wall will let in the sunrays so when the building is completed a sundial can be set up.

Inside the circle are 68 dwarfs who stand around a circular dwarf trail. Inside the trail is the polar star pointer, and does exactly what its name says. There you can also find the throne of the sun that is meant to be a place where the traveler can sit down to have his picture taken. Also a hall of rays, which is a sort of sanctuary between high columns, with one seat, where the guest can empty his mind an renew his energy. An altar of fire and water, that reminds us of the power of the elements, where events can be performed, for examples weddings, oath taking and so forth

Getting There

It´s about 130 km from Húsavík, but good roads all the way, so allow 1.5 hrs.
Follow the road 85 northeast out of Húsavík, past Ásbyrgi, taking the 874 road junction east just before Kópasker. Once in Raufarhöfn, you can´t miss the stones, looming impressively on the hill above the town. There is a short track to drive up, or you can walk if you prefer. Here is the route.

Bjarg í Miðfirði

Bjarg in Midfjordur, is the farm that belonged to Asdis, the mother of outlaw Grettir Asmundarson - Grettir the Strong, of Grettis Saga fame. Beneath a rock in the hayfield, Asdis buried Gretti´s head, which was presented to her by his killer. There´s now a monument in her honour on site.

Borgarvirki

Borgarvirki is a 10-15 metre high ridge of columnar rock. This phenomenon is a volcanic plug, and there is speculation as to whether it was, in ancient times, a district fortress and even, perhaps, a battleground.
From Borgarvirki there is a wide panoramic view over a large part of the region and a viewfinder is in place to help locate some of the important landmarks.
This is truly a unique natural phenomenon, but one which has also seen some improvements by the hand of man in bygone days.

Drangey

The rocky island Drangey in the middle of Skagafjordur is a flat topped mass of tuff, rising almost 200 meters out of the ocean. The cliffs serve as nesting sites for around million sea birds and have been used throughout Iceland´s history for egg collection and bird netting.

Grettis Saga recounts that both Grettir and his brother Illugi lived on Drangey, for three years and were slain there. The island can only be ascended at one spot.

Boat tours to the island from Reykjaströnd and Saudarkrokur.

Gasir - Medival Trading place

Gásir is a unique place. In no other place in Iceland is it possible to find so many remainings from a trading post from the Middle Ages. Gásir was the main trading post in northern Iceland during the Middle Ages, and the place is mentioned many times in Old Icelandic Sagas from the 13th and 14th centuries. Archaeological digging in the area during the last six years has shown that it was a trading post up to the 16th century, possibly until trading started in Akureyri.

Each year in July Medieval life at Gásir is reconstructed with help from Icelandic craftsmen who wear medieval clothes and sell handicraft. Various handcrafts are on display; dyeing with plant extracts, wool-work, sewing, sewing leather and weaving.

Hólar in Hjaltadalur

Hólar is one of the most famous historical sites in Iceland and was, for many centuries, an Episcopal See. It was also the capital of North Iceland for over 700 years. There has been a church on the site from the 11th century, and the present Hólar Cathedral was consecrated in 1763. It is the oldest stone built church in Iceland.

Hólaskóli School, founded in 1882, was an agricultural school, but there is evidence that some form of school has been present at Hólar right from the time of the first bishopric. Archaeological research has been carried out at Hólar over the past years and more than 40 thousand items found, some of which are now on display in the old schoolhouse.

Hraun í Öxnadal
Residence for writers, poets and scholars of nature studies. An exhibition of the live and works of Jónas Hallgrímsson, one of Iceland's most beloved poets.
Möðrudalur

At an altitude of 469 m, Möðrudalur farm lies higher than any other Icelandic farm. The remarkable, tiny church was built by the farmer himself, Jón Stefánsson, in 1949. The tourist services here operate year-round. Various trails have been marked through the area, which prides itself on wide panoramas and amazing silence. The majestic Mount Herðubreið, looming in the near distance, has long been referred to as the Queen of Icelandic Mountains, but its image was further cultivated in the last century by a self-made painter from Möðrudalur farm, Stefán Jónsson (Stórval).

Safnasafnid Museum

Safnasafnið - The Icelandic Folk Art Museum - was founded in 1995 by Níels Hafstein and Magnhildur Sigurðardóttir. The collection, consisting of paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolours, embroideries, books, dolls, toys and tools, presents an interesting and informative view of folk art, as well as modern art and what inspires it. The collection consists of over 3000 works by naive, outsider and folk artists and close to 200 works by modern artists. Also in the museum are a small café and a museum shop.

Yearly the museum displays 16 exhibitons of diverse character mixing folk art and modern to create a surprising rendez-vous of ideas and show in one place the wonderful and playful paths of the creative mind. The museum also offers a superb library with books on art, architecture, outsider art, gardens, cars and diverse other things, all adding to its meditative charm. The museum offers excellent explorative grounds for the curious visitor, who becomes spontaneously a participant in an adventure that brings his and hers youthful spirit to new heights.

The Christmas Garden

A visit to The Christmas Garden will transport you into the realms of Christmas - only a 10 minute drive from Akureyri. Here you will find countless items connected to the festive season from all parts of the world. Of course, Icelandic Christmas traditions are given priority, such as legs of smoked lamb hanging from a beam and the decorative "leaf bread" in many patterns, as well as the Yuletide Lads and their parents, who play such an important role in the Icelandic Christmas celebrations. Quality handwork, crafted by many artists from all parts of the country deck the shelves, making this a place which appeals to all the family.

The Herring Era Museum

The Herring Era Museum is Iceland's largest maritime and industrial museum, where visitors have the opportunity to get to know the herring fishery and processing industry that underpinned Iceland's economy for much of the twentieth century.

Three very different museum buildings provide visitors with an insight into the magnificent and captivating herring industry. The Róaldsbrakki is a Norwegian herring station dating back to 1907. Most of this building is as it was in the past, when herring girls lived in the building throughout the summer. Grána is an example of a small herring factory of the 1930s and visitors can see the workings of the reduction industry, which has long been seen as Iceland's first major industry. The Boathouse seeks to recreate a portion of a herring port, with the fleet alongside one evening in 1950 and allows visitors to mull over what it must have been like to walk the quaysides around the middle of the last century.
More information: www.sild.is/en

The Seal center

The Icelandic Seal Centre is housed in the historically interesting and attractive premises of VSP in Hvammstangi. Here you will find informative exhibitions on the seal and its habits, seal hunting and the utilisation of seal-related products, besides stories and folklore surrounding that fascinating creature.

The centre also plays the role of a tourist information bureau, providing visitors with details on the most interesting places in Húnaþing, and also where to find relaxation and leisure facilities. Souvenirs and hand crafted goods from the area are also on sale here.

The Þingeyjarsýsla District Museum

Byggðasafn S-Þing (The South Þingeyjarsýsla District Museum) is housed within the Safnahúsið at Húsavík and is to be found on the middle floor of the building. This exhibition is called "100 years of Life and Nature in Þingeyjarsýsla" and attempts to shed light on the interaction of man and nature. It is, therefore partly a natural history exhibition.
Opening times:
Summer: 1 June-31 August, daily 10:00-18:00.
Winter: 1 September-31 May, weekdays 10:00-16:00.

Þingeyrakirkja church

Þingeyrar was, in past times, one of the most famous estates in Húnaþing and also the site of a church. Now, the Þingeyrakirkja church commands one of the widest and most beautiful panoramic views in the county. It is said that no estate was as big as or endowed with such elegant buildings as Þingeyrar, which is probably not surprising as it was home to chieftains and the elite for many centuries. Þingeyrakirkja church was built of stone and consecrated in 1877. Þingeyrar was also the site of the Iceland's first monastery, founded in 1133.

Víðimýrarkirkja church

Víðimýrarkirkja church is one of the few preserved turf churches in Iceland. At the beginning of the 20th century its fate was uncertain, but luckily the immense cultural value of the building was recognised in time, and the National Museum of Iceland became responsible for its renovation. The church was built in 1834 and has turf walls, but timber gables both back and front.

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