I have recently written a blog on the Laufás turf houses in Eyjafjörður. Since then I have been asked if I could show photos from the inside of turf houses in Iceland.
The turf houses in Iceland are in my opinion so typical for Iceland. I love visiting them and always seek them out on my travels in my country. I visit Grenjaðarstaður every year and you will see why if you read a little bit further on in my blog.
There was a homestead here at Grenjaðarstaður from the early settlement of Iceland over a thousand years ago. The present building dates back to the 19th century, but the oldest parts of it date back to 1865.
The present building at Grenjaðarstaður was the largest manor of this county, 775 fm2.
This building material, turf or sod, was used as it was cheap and it insulated the houses and kept the cold out. The outwalls of Grenjaðarstaður are made from doubly stacked lava, of which there is plenty in this area. There is no turf in the outwalls of Grenjaðarstaður. Lava was the building material in the areas of Iceland, where there is volcanic activity.
If you visit more turf houses in Iceland you will see that they are not all built in the same way. In other parts of Iceland where turf was easily available, turf was used for the walls of the turf houses. Thus the turf houses don't all look the same in Iceland.
When Rev. Benedikt Kristjánsson, my great-great-grandfather, became a minister at Grenjaðarstaður in 1877 he restored the houses completely, apart from the door to the east and the northern parlour. Almost 30 people were living there at this time. He had a big family, domestics and many old people were living there as well. Benedikt Kristjánsson was a minister at Grenjaðarstaður from 1877-1907.
His wife, Regína Magdalena Sívertsen (1847-1884), my great-great-grandmother, is buried in the graveyard by the church with 4 of her small children and her mother-in-law. I have been told that my great-great grandmother Regína died of a broken heart after the loss of 4 of her small children. I am named after her. When I travel in this area I always go visit her grave. When you visit Grenjaðarstaður turf house you will see their photos hanging on the wall in the first room you enter.
In the graveyard there is a rune-stone from the middle ages.
In 1915 there were 15 people living at Grenjaðarstaður according to the census. Four ministers lived at the manor and there were people living here until 1948. The National Museum took over the manor, restored it from 1955-1958 in the liking of its original state and opened up a district museum at Grenjaðarstaður. The rooms are kept pretty much like they were when people used to live at Grenjaðarstaður.
For me it is a delight visiting this old manor seeing all the things my great-great-grandparents owned and how they lived. Their pictures are on the wall in the room on the left as you enter the turf house.
Visiting the museum gives great insight into the ways people lived in North-Iceland in the 19th century, even though this mansion was much larger than the usual turf houses.
The rooms are full of old items. When Grenjaðarstaður was turned into a museum in 1958 the locals from this district donated over thousand objects to the museum. I especially like the kitchen, seeing all these old lovely plates and old kitchen utensils.
The floors of Grenjaðarstaður are wooden, but one room has got beaten dirt floors. I have seen these dirt floors in other turf houses and they are comfortable to walk on.
There is a church opposite Grenjaðarstaður in Aðaldalur. The church was built in 1865 and before that time there were Catholic turf churches here dedicated to Bishop Martein from Tours in France. Grenjaðarstaðarkirkja church is preserved.
In the summer of 2015 there was a special service at the church on its 150th anniversary. The altarpiece in Grenjaðarstaðarkirkja church dates back to 1865. The current minister at the church back then donated the altarpiece to the church. Belonging to the church is also a chalice from 1870 and two old copper candlesticks.
The year 1797 is painted on the pulpit and the initials of Tómas Skúlason, who was the minister of the church back in 1785-1808.
The church bells in the bell canopy in front of the church are also old by Icelandic standard, dating back to 1663 and 1740.
Grenjaðarstaður turf house is owned by the National Museum of Iceland and run by the the district-museum of this area. It is open daily from 1st of June - 31st of August from 10-18.
Grenjaðarstaður is located at 65° 49,252'N, 17° 21,057'W.
Don't miss visiting a turf house while in Iceland. I am so fond of them that I seek them out on my travels, so I will be adding more blog on these old ways of living in Iceland :)