Tuesday—drove up the Thjorsa river (longest in Iceland) in search of Stong, the only excavated settlement age farm in Iceland. A great farm hall built of stone and turf, it was destroyed and completely buried in pumice when Mt. Hekla erupted in 1104. This event seems seared on Icelandic memory, despite the distance.
Walking into the ruin was very moving. A roof has covered it the last fifty years and ferns grow in the cool damp. A bird flitted about inside. A thousand years have passed since settlers were shocked by the destruction of their world.
Nearby is a reconstructed medieval farmhouse in Pjorsardalur. This sounds more straightforward than it was. Our trusty guidebook proved rather vague on this area, and we ended up backtracked in near-by Arnes, soaking in yet another ultra-pleasant municipal pool. Better directions got us to to the reconstruction, a truly beautiful enormous sod house. It has a tiny chapel beside it, totally ensconced in sod, which this time of year is blooming wildflowers.Stong itself was the home of the warrior Gaukur, from Njal’s saga. Apparently there is a whole other saga about him that has been lost–and an inscription as far away as the Orkney Islands was carved about his feats.
We saw something called a skaftholtscrettir with a historic marker, but learned nothing as it was in Icelandic. A big circular enclosure, our best guess was that was used to sort herds of sheep. Lots of daisies, (or daisylike mayweed) which I think are called baldursbra for the god Baldur who wore one of his forehead. The trip ended with a huge double waterfall–two distinct falls joining together in a clear pool before flowing into the river–a romantic image.
When I was a kid we had a novelty gift that was a ceramic head with a kind of Mr. Potato head expression.You added seeds to the head and watered it and voila–green grass hair! Kind of like the look of the sod house.