#skagafjordur

 

Basalt column is a captivating formation of rocks.  It is one of many creations of nature that visitors in Iceland are interested in as the structure is often quite beautiful and unique.  Although Staðarbjörg small basalt column cliffs by the Staðarbjargarvík cove in the tiny village of Hofsós are rather accessible, the place has not drawn much attention.  It is probably still a kind of hidden gem as it is a good place with easy access to see the basalt column formation.  The small cliffs are pretty impressive as they rise from the sore in their regular formation.  It is also relatively easy to step onto part of the rocks although caution is required when climbing on rocks and cliffs.  The formation with the magnificent fjord Skagafjörður in the background is a great place to take interesting photos.  Compared to many other basalt column formations in Iceland Staðarbjörg is an impressive sight.

The cliffs are actually a small trading post or hamlet inhabited by elves

A story of a poor farmer whose wool was declined by the local merchant at Hofsós some centuries ago has been preserved and gives a deeper sight into the cliffs.  As he was heading back from the store with his wool in desperation, a stranger approached him. He invited him into the cliffs at Staðarbjörg, and to the farmer’s disbelief, it was actually a small beautiful village full of life and elves.  The stranger told him that he was also a merchant and traded with a ship that arrived each year the first week of summer.  He offered to trade with him and told him that his wool was much better than the merchant at the Hofsós store had suggested.  He also gave him a beautiful scarf as a gift to his wife.  They agreed to do a wool trade each year, and their arrangement would be a secret.  The farmer upheld that agreement but told the story on his deathbed.  Fortunately for us, we can now see how a beautiful small elf village looks.

Finding your way to Hofsós and Staðarbjörg

When you are driving the Ring Road in Iceland in the Northern Region in Skagafjörður, you need to take a turn on Road Nr. 76 Siglufjarðarvegur.  The distance to Hofsós is 42 kilometers.  By the shore below the fantastic swimming pool in Hofsós, there are a few steps down on a staircase.  When you are down by the coast, you have a great view of this beautiful basalt column formation and apparently a small elf village.

Below is the location of Staðarbjörg on the map of Iceland

The cliffs are actually a small trading post or hamlet inhabited by elves
Honor students program of the University of Southern Main

Occasionally, I take tours, as a guide, with groups traveling with Geocamp Iceland, an Icelandic company that helps organize tours for schools, educational institutions and teachers around the world that are interested in Iceland. Most of the time the tours are organized with an emphasis on a theme, like geology, history, or even an industry like the fishing industry in Iceland.

Luckily when we reached the top of the island, the weather was fantastic and the view was spectacular.
Evelyn Ýr, Eydís and Sigrún are three farmers located in Skagafjörður

Evelyn Ýr, Eydís and Sigrún are three farmers located in Skagafjörður (North Iceland) that started a program together called The Icelandic Farm Animals.

The Icelandic Farm Animals

Hólar í Hjaltadal usually referred to as simply "Hólar", a site of historical buildings and archeological excavation, played a significant role in Iceland's history from the twelfth century until the eighteenth. After the Icelanders had converted to Christianity, Hólar became the Episcopal see in the north with Skálholt serving the same function in the south. Still, Hólar didn't become a diocese until 1106.

During the next seven centuries, it was one of Iceland's two main cultural and educational centers. There was a monastery on the premises, where monks produce manuscripts and transcripts. The first printing press in Iceland was set up in Hólar in 1530.

Such a center would always be highly political in a medieval society, which became quite apparent in 1550. Jón Arason was the last presiding bishop at Hólar. He defended his church and his faith through a fierce conflict. The conflict ended when Arason was arrested and transported to Skálholt. There he was beheaded along with his two sons who both were Catholic priests.

Ever since Arason's time there has been a church in Hólar. In 1759-63, the present Baroque style church was built in Hólar. It is the second-oldest building in Iceland.  The main altarpiece, with its ornate carvings, originated in Germany around 1500 and was, ironically, donated to the church by Arason.

In 1882, an Agricultural College was founded at Hólar. It was rename  Hólar University College in 2003. Hólar is also home to the Center for the History of the Icelandic horse.

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Hólar í Hjaltadal on the map of Iceland

After the Icelanders had converted to Christianity, Hólar became the Episcopal see in the north with Skálholt serving the same function in the south.

 

When driving in Skagafjörður fjord in the North Region in Iceland can't help but be impressed by a huge rock or an island towering majestically in the middle of the fjord. The rock is visible from the Ring Road as you approach Vamahlíð coming from the mountain pass Vatnsskarð between Húnavatnssýsla and Skagafjörður.  Geologically the island, Drangey, is a remnant of a seven hundred years old volcano and mostly made of volcanic tuff. Of course, to the Icelanders this geological explanation of the island's origins was a somewhat dull, so, they came up with another explanation: Two night-prowling trolls were crossing the fjord with their cow in tow. They were rather slow in their movement and were caught in the early morning sunlight. It is, of course, common knowledge that the Sun turns trolls into stones. Man, woman and cow turned into stones on the spot. The cow turned into Drangey island; the woman became Kerling (Od Hag) which is the stack south of Drangey, and a stack north of the island Drangey became Karl (Man). Unfortunately some centuries ago the man collapsed and disappeared into the ocean as a large earthquake shook Skagafjörður some centuries ago.

A place where the outlaw and famous Icelandic bad boy Grettir Ásmundarson found sanctuary

Drangey is first mentioned in the Icelandic Saga Grettis Saga. The island is the place where Grettir found refuge after being outlawed.  Grettir is considered to be the strongest man ever to bear the title Icelander.  Also, he was as mean tempered, grumpy and ill-spirited as they come. He was also a miserable and unlucky person, so when he experienced a lack of trouble, he could rest assure that misfortune would find him.  From early childhood, he was in trouble and continued to search for and create problems for himself and others throughout his whole life.   After being outlawed he survived in Dragey for three years until he was slain in a dramatic sequence of events.

A steep path to the top

Drangey is a mass of tuff, flat on the top, rising almost 200 meters out of the ocean. The cliffs serve as nesting sites for around million seabirds, among them a Puffin colony. Throughout the centuries the locals have visited the cliffs for egg collection and bird netting. There is only one trail leading to the top. It is quite steep and not for the faint of heart or those who have some fear of height or have acrophobia.  For those who are interested, there are tours to Drangey during the summer from the farm Reykir 30 Kilometers north of the town Sauðárkrókur.  Before you leave for the tour or after the tour, you can relax at Reykir in the geothermal pool Grettislaug

WHAT KIND OF CAR FITS FOR AN ICELAND ROAD TRIP?
Read this important article written by a local expert before you choose a car.

Below is the location of Drangey on the map of Iceland

Drangey