Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland

One of the main turf houses left in East-Iceland is the lovely red turf farm, Bustarfell by Vopnafjörður, which is now a museum. But there is another turf farm in East-Iceland, off the beaten path and closed to visitors. It is called Galtastaðir-fram in Hróarstunga - sometimes also called Galtastaðir-fremri.

On my travels around my country, I look for all the turf houses in Iceland, as they are of great interest to me. Being so far away from my home in Reykjavík and finding out that Galtastaðir-fram was closed to visitors I ended up breaking the law a bit - I walked past the sign saying "no admittance" and jumped the fence.

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland

Don't follow my example though! Nobody was around and this extraordinary turf house blends in perfectly with nature. I took a look inside but didn't feel comfortable being there without permission.

I was later given permission to write about Galtastaðir-fram here on Guide to Iceland, with the warning though that it is closed to visitors.

Galtastaðir-fram was empty, no furniture etc. It is being renovated, but that job has come to a halt as there is lack of funding for finishing the job.

A new house was built adjacent to the turf farm in 1960, but the old farm was inhabited until 1967. This was common as at both Þverá turf farm and Bustarfell turf farm modern houses were built by the turf farm in 1960. 

Unlike many of the other turf houses I have written about then Galtastaðir-fram was not a manor, but a modest farm, where poorer people lived. It is not known when exactly the turf house was built, but it is from the 19th century. 

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-IcelandThis type of turf houses is called "Galtastaðagerð" type with its roots in ancient times (fornugerð). Galtastaðir-fram has a "fjósbaðstofa" a so-called byre-dwelling. The baðstofa faces sideways to the main pathway, instead of facing the same way as the other turf houses, which is the more usual turf house type.

Galtastaðir-fram is different from other turf houses I have visited and in 1882 a cowshed was built on the ground floor and the sitting room above so the warmth from the cows would heat up the sitting room (baðstofa). In this communal sitting room, people would both sleep, eat and do their handiwork.

All of the major turf houses in Iceland are a part of the National Museum's Historic Buildings Collection and they are on the UNESCO list. Galtastaðir-fram turf house has belonged to Þjóðminjasafn Íslands - the National Museum of Iceland since 1976.

A folklore is linked to the farm. There are monoliths in lake Álftavatn close to the farm called Gullsteinar or the Golden rocks. The story goes that the settler Galti hid his gold chests there and they are not to be touched or else the farm at Galtastaðir will burn down. I have not been able to find this folklore in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason, which I often refer to regarding Icelandic folklore.

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland

But I found another folklore about the settler Galti: "In Hróarstunga in Múlasýsla county there are 4 farms: Gunnildargerði, Nefbjarnarstaðir and Geirastaðir; these 3 farms are in a row; at the front is Gunnhildargerði, the outermost is Geirastaðir and Nefbjarnarstaðir in the middle. Above them is the fourth farm, Galtastaðir. These farms are named after 3 brothers and their mother, who lived there in olden times. 

On the estate of the brothers, there was a ridge, Tunguás, where there was good grazing. All of the brothers owned their part in the ridge. Galti wanted to own the whole ridge, but his brothers, Geiri and Nefbjörn, were opposed to that. Finally, they agreed on fighting over the ownership of the ridge. They were to meet by a creek which runs between Galtastaðirand the other farms beneath Galtastaðir.

There are no accounts of the fight, but all of the brothers were killed and are buried on this spot. Their mother is buried there as well, as it was her wish to be buried with her sons after her death. Her grave (dys) and the graves of her sons, Geiri and Nefbjörn, are east of the creek, but Galti's grave is north of the creek, as after he had been fatally wounded he jumped over a wide pit in the creek. He did so as he wanted to die on his own land.

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland

Another account exists of a man, who had started to dig in the grave (dys) of Galti, looking for valuables, and as he had dug for a while he fell asleep. He felt a woman coming to him, saying: "It is of no use, my dear man, to dig here, as here is no money to be found, but in the green tussock by the large pit, there is gold". The man woke up, stopped digging and nobody has seen the tussock since then.

The graves can still be seen. The creek's name is Haugalækur creek".

(Translated into English from Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason).

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland
These turf houses are located between Jökulsá river in Dalur and Lagarfljót river. A dirt road leads to the farm, road no 927 off road 925. It is located some 20 minutes away from Egilsstaðir, the capital city of East-Iceland. But as I said earlier then it is still closed.

You can see this small, cute replica of Galtastaðir-fram in Egilsstaðir town with an information sign on the turf houses :)

Galtastaðir-fram Turf House in East-Iceland

I have added a travel-blog on this old turf house as I want to show you all of the remaining turf houses in Iceland.

To visit East-Iceland you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive up there in a couple of days. Also, check out the 11 Day Self Drive Tour | Ring Road & East Fjords.

Once in the Eastfjords, you can join one of the myriads of excellent tours by Travel East. Have a lovely time in East-Iceland :)

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