Rruins of a real Viking Settlement-Age farm, Stöng, can be found in Þjórsárdalur valley. Some of the Vikings settled in in the valley, unaware that they were in the proximity of the notorious volcano Hekla - the Queen of Icelandic volcanoes.
Mt. Hekla erupted for the first time after the Settlement of Iceland in 1104 causing the devastation of 20 settlement farms in Þjórsárdalur valley. Eight of them were excavated, but only one remains above ground, Stöng, the others were covered over again. It is believed that people lived almost continuously at Stöng until ca 1300 though.
Since the eruption in Mt Hekla in 1104, the volcano has erupted in 1158, 1206, 1222, 1300, 1341, 1389, 1510, 1597, 1636 , 1693, 1766, 1845, 1947, 1970, 1980, 1981, 1991 and 2000, so one can see that it is very active and "due" to erupt again.
In 1939 archaeologists excavated the exceptionally well preserved ruins of Stöng, which had been hidden away for 835 years under massive layers of tephra.
Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-age farm, a reconstructed medieval farmhouse, was erected in 1974, on the 1100 year's anniversary of the Icelandic settlement. Þjóðveldisbærinn is a replica of the excavated ruins at Stöng.
What you can see here are stone foundations of a farm house, covered by a protective wooden shelter with a red roof.
Gaukur á Stöng - Gaukur at Stöng farm
The Viking Gaukur Þrándilsson lived at Stöng. You can read a bit about him in Njáls Saga, but his Saga is unfortunately lost.
Gaukur was killed by his own foster-brother, Ásgrímur Elliða-Grímsson. They waged a duel of honour over Gaukur's affair with Ásgrímur's kinswoman, it seems.
In Þjórsárdalur one can find a cape called Gaukshöfði and there old bones were found in the 19th century, believed to be the bones of Gaukur. The cape is right by the road so it is easy visiting it.
It is possible to walk up to the top of the cape, where there is a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-age farm
Þjóðveldisbærinn (Commenwealth Farm) Saga-age farm is a reconstructed medieval farmhouse, a replica of the excavated ruins of the real Viking settler's farmhouse at Stöng in Þjórsárdalur valley.
In 1974, on the 1100-year anniversary of Icelandic settlement, Þjóðveldisbærinn was erected close to where Stöng farmhouse was excavated.
This farm is a "must-see" when visiting this area, there is something so magical about this place, like you have just popped in for a visit to a Viking chieftain.
Inside the farm in the middle of the main hall there is a long-fire. By it the inhabitants worked, rested, ate and told stories.
Here one can see how the Vikings lived. You will find a dining area, sleeping area, working area, a toilet room and a pantry. Walking between some of the rooms is strange as the ceiling in the corridors is really, really low. I tend to bump my head a lot when walking inside turf houses. People were considerably smaller in the olden days as times were harder.
In my photo above you can see the toilet area and a drawing of a woman helping her child.
A church was erected by Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-age farm and consecrated in year 2000. It is a small turf stave-church built in the liking of a church excavated by the farm at Stöng.
The church is open and it is really small, showing that the Vikings were smaller than people today. One has to take care not to bang one's head, which I without fail do!
The church belongs to the congregation of Stóra-Núpsprestakall benefice and the Icelandic state owns both the Saga-age farm and the church.
A small, serene waterfall can be seen next to the Saga-age farm. It is such a beautiful setting! And the distinctive Hjálparfoss waterfall is only a stone-throw away. If you look at my photo below then you can see how Þjóðveldisbærinn blends perfectly in with nature.
A scene from the TV-series Game of Thrones was shot on this locations. A very violent scene, where all the inhabitants of the farm were killed by the Wildlings, but a small boy.
The Saga-age farm is open daily from June 1st until August 31st. And remember the Icelandic word "Þjóðveldisbærinn" - which is a bit of a mouthful, I know, - as you have to follow that sign. A little bit further down the road from Þjóðveldisbærinn is the Búrfell Hydropower Station.
Búrfell Hydropower Station
Búrfell Hydropower Station is Iceland's second largest hydropower station. It is second only to the new Kárahnjúkar hydropower plant. Ca 800 people worked on building this massive structure, which was the biggest construction, Icelanders had undertaken. It was opened in 1970 and harnesses the glacial river Þjórsá - Iceland's longest river.
The hydropower station is owned by Iceland's National Power Company "Landsvirkjun" and located almost next to Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-age farm. The National Power Company's aim is to make Þjórsárdalur valley as attractive to travellers as possible. They had a part in building and running the Saga-age farm and left-over concrete from the dam was used for making a swimming pool in the valley.
Notice the mural decorations on the Station, they are the largest of its kind in Iceland, made by the artist Sigurjón Ólafsson.
Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-Age farm is located by road 32 in Þjórsárdalur valley and Stöng manor is located by road 327 only ca 7 km away. Here you can see the exact location of Þjóðveldisbærinn on the map.
The road to Stöng is a bumpy gravel road, at times in very bad condition so a 4x4 is needed in my opinion. But a 2WD is enough for the reconstructed Saga-Age farm as the road is paved all the way. The distance from Reykjavík to this beautiful place is ca 122 km. You can rent a car in Reykjavík and go there on a day tour.