The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

In the middle of Ölfusá glacial river in South-Iceland a lone rock with one Christmas tree on top will catch your eye.

An old folklore in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Folklore of Jón Árnason, tells us the story of how this rock came to get its place in the middle of this glacial river, which is Iceland's largest river by volume. Apparently, a giantess, called Jórunn, threw the rock into the river:

"Jórunn was the name of a girl, she was a farmers daughter somewhere in Sandvíkurhreppur in Flóinn; she was young and had a lot of potentials, but she was considered somewhat temperamental. She worked as a cook for her father.

One day a horse-fight took place not far from Jórunn's farm; her father owned one of the horses in the fight, and Jórunn was very fond of that horse. She and other women were present at the horse-fight; but as the fight started, she saw that her father's horse was being defeated.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

Jórunn was so utterly livid that she stormed towards the other horse and ripped off its thigh; she ran away with it and nobody could stop her, up to Ölfusá river by Laxfoss waterfall, grabbed a huge rock from the cliffs by the river and threw it almost into the middle of the river; she then used the rock to skip across the river and uttered:

"Máttugt er meyjarstig;

mál mun vera að gifta sig."

meaning:

"Ended is age of maidenhood

Marry soon I guess I should."

From then on this place has been called Tröllkonhlaup or Jóruhlaup - the Leap of the Giantess or the Leap of Jóra. The Giantess then carried on to Ölfus east of Mt. Ingólfsfjall, up to Grafningur, until she arrived at a rocky gorge west of Grafningur, not far from Nesjar; she carried on relentlessly until she arrived at Mt. Hengill.

There she settled down in what was from then on called Jóruhellir - the Cave of Jórunn - and became a terrible troll and killed both men and animals."

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

The story goes on to tell us how Jórunn or Jóra terrorised her neighbourhood until it became deserted. A young Icelandic man went to Norway and got advice from the Norwegian King on how to kill Jóra. That part of the folklore tells us how Öxará river - the River of the Axe in Þingvellir national park got its name.

The milky white Ölfusá glacial river is the largest river in Iceland by volume. It runs by Selfoss town and into the sea a little bit further south. Hvítá glacial river and Sognið join together to make Ölfusá this voluminous with a flow of up to 423 /sek!

The mighty glacial river passes Selfoss before it reaches the mouth of the river further south.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

The Hvítá glacial river originates in Langjökull glacier and forms the most famous waterfall in Iceland, Gullfoss - the Golden waterfall, which gives the Golden Circle its name. Together with Ölfusá river, it forms the 3rd longest river in Iceland.

The Lava Bubbles by Ölfusá RiverThe temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

On the river bank of Ölfusá just beneath Ölfusárbrú bridge, you will find fascinating lava formations, of which not many people take notice. Here the lava takes on the form of circular pots.

The lava pots are from 1-2 meters in diameter and up to half a metre deep. They were formed when huge gas bubbles arose from the molten lava flow. Before they burst the lava walls around them cooled down, forming the circular lava pots.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

In my travel-blog on the Rauðhólar pseudocraters and Tröllabörn - the Troll Children hornitos I show you similar geological formations. The lava pots are possibly the first stages of such geological phenomenon, but instead of turning into a pseudocrater or a hornito lava pots were formed.

These geological formations are so special that they are listed on the Icelandic Nature Conservation Register (Náttúruminjaskrá) - yet so few people take notice of them.

These circular lava pots were formed in a massive lava flow, Þjórsárhraun, some 8,700 years ago. In fact, it was the largest lava flow on Earth since the Ice Age. The western edge of Þjórsárhraun lava flow forms the eastern bank of the glacial river Ölfusá.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

I often pop down to the glacial river and have a seat in the biggest pot - see my photo above. In the background, you can see the rock which Jóra the Giantess threw into Ölfusá river.

You will find these lava pots beneath the Ölfusárbrú bridge after you cross the bridge to Selfoss town. The current bridge dates back to 1945, but this massive glacial river was first bridged back in 1891. It was a suspension bridge, not meant for cars and back in 1944 when two dairy trucks drove on the bridge, two suspension cables broke.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland
The meaning of the name Selfoss is the Waterfall of the Seals, as there used to be a lot of seals in the river by which Selfoss stands, Ölfusá river. I know this name is confusing and I have been asked where the waterfall is, but there is no waterfall here.

There is a waterfall thought named Selfoss in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in North-Iceland next to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.

The temperamental Giantess Jóra in Jórukleif and the Lava Bubbles by Selfoss in South-Iceland

Selfoss is located by ring-road 1 some 55 km away from Reykjavík, Iceland's capital city. To reach this area, you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive there in less than an hour.

If you take the first turn left on road 35 before driving onto the Ölfusárbrú bridge leading to Selfoss you will reach Kerið crater, Skálholt Cathedral, Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall on the Golden Circle. A right turn on road 34 in Selfoss just after the bridge will take you to the lovely villages by the sea, Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki. And if you drive through Selfoss on ring-road 1 you will reach all the wonderful sights on the south coast of Iceland.

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