Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

Borgarvirki - the Citadel is a columnar basalt fortress and a volcanic plug on Vatnsnes peninsula in northwest Iceland. It is 10-15 m high and 177 meters above sea-level. It might have been used as an old Viking fortress, at least some legends claim that it was, but we don't know this for sure. I go with the notion that it is a Viking fortress, but that is only because I love to find Viking stuff in my country ;)

There are steps leading up to the top. It is hard to walk there as it is very rocky and a lot of rocks have fallen from the fortress. But as you reach the top of the fortress the view from there is breathtaking. 

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

There is a hollow dent in the middle of the fortress about 5-6 meters deep and you can see that man-made walls of stones from the fortress have been built there with an opening to the east. Parts of the walls of stones and the entrance were reconstructed back in 1949-1950.

Inside Borgarvirki you will notice a stone with a plate on it saying: "Hér voru skírð Sigurður Teitur og Elfa Maren 8. júlí 2001" or in English: "Here were baptized Sigurður Teitur and Elfa Maren on the 8th of July 2001" - isn't that lovely?

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

Inside the fortress, you will see remains of 2 ruins of huts from ancient times. And a fresh waterhole.

According to Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason the people of this area, Húnavatns district, used Borgarvirkias a defence when the chieftains of Borgarfjörður attacked them in the 13th century. The chieftains were seeking revenge for the Heiðarvíg killings.

We have parts of the Heiðarvíga Saga left, but the first part of it burnt in a tragic fire in 1728 in Denmark, where we lost many valuable manuscripts. This legend might have been in the first part of that Saga, we don't know, so it stays a legend.

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

According to the legend at least on two occasions, the people of the Húnavatns district were under siege and the attacker's strategy was to starve them out. On one occasion they had run out of food. They overheard that their enemies were talking about how much provision they had got left.

Then Víga-Barði, their leader, thought of a strategy to get rid of their enemies. Only one piece of meat was left and they threw it out from the fortress. Their enemies came to the conclusion that they had plenty of provisions and left. 

The stories are not consistent though, but I think we get the drift. 

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

On top of Borgarvirki, you will find a view dial showing the names of the mountains in the vicinity. There are around 90 view dials in Iceland and my goal is to find them all and photograph them :)  

My father-in-law made this view-dial and if you look closely during your visit you will see his initials J.H. (Jakob Hálfdanarson) on the view-dial :)

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

Even though it was July during my visit I am dressed in layers and wearing a down-parka from 66° North, which is our best known Icelandic brand. When they are having a sale at their outlet we Icelanders flock there and stock up on clothes that fit the Icelandic weather.

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

The photo below shows what the gravel road looks like and the lower sign is the sign for the view-dial - called hringsjá in Icelandic.

To reach Borgarvirki from Hvítserkur monolith you drive on road 711 and turn left on 717, which is 8 km of a bad one-lane road with hard shoulder and several blind hills. 

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?The road seems never ending and when we finally got up to the parking lot by Borgarvirki on one of our visits there, we saw a tank-lorry coming in our direction.  We just counted our blessings that we "missed" it by a few minutes. So please drive carefully here.

To get back to ring-road 1 you drive further on road 717 which turns into 716 and leads you to ring-road 1.

It is a bit tricky getting to Borgarvirki, but it is so worth it.

Borgarvirki Fortress in North-West Iceland - was this a Viking Fortress?

Don't miss visiting this area on Vatnsnes peninsula, it is so worth the detour in the summertime. 

You can either rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to Borgarvirki or join this guided tour Wild North Super Jeep Tour | Grábrók Crater, Kolugljúfur Canyon & Borgarvirki Citadel. Also check out the self-drive tours available, with a car, accommodation and itinerary included.

I have written another travel-blog on Hvítserkur monolith on the Vatnsnes peninsula.

Have a lovely time on the Vatnsnes peninsula :)

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