The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

On our trip to Melrakkaslétta plain, we drove down to Axarfjörður fjord - also called Öxarfjörður, where one can find a lair of the notorious Viking, Grettir the Strong Ásmundarson (ca 996-1031). Grettir was one of the best known Vikings in Iceland and his story is told in the Grettis Saga (written around year 1300).

I have written more about the Viking outlaw Grettir in my Drangey blog.

Grettir is known for being the longest surviving outlaw in the history of my country - he was an outlaw for almost 20 years! There was a law in Iceland that outlaws would gain their freedom after having been outlaws for 20 years, and when Grettir was killed in Drangey island, he only had a couple of months left to have fulfilled his duty of staying an outlaw for 20 years!

Grettir the Strong became an outlaw after having killed Þorbjörn öxnamegin and his son, but Þorgeir had killed Grettir's brother, Atli. For 20 years Grettir hid in lairs, which are called Grettisbæli in Iceland, or the Lairs of Grettir. 

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

One of these lairs are located in the mountain Öxarnúpur, a 146 m mountain, made of basalt columns. It is a massive rock with a lot of scree, making it difficult to mount.

There is a path leading from the parking lot through the land of the farmer and up to the Grettisbæli lair. It takes ca 25 minutes to get to the lair and it is a bit steep walk up the mountain.

The lair cannot be seen from below and it isn't until one actually stands on the protruding cliff that it is obvious that this was the lair of Grettir the Strong, his hiding place.

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

When we got up on top of the protruding rock there was a small lawn, about the size of a small room. By the end of it the lair is located. It isn't big, only ca 2 meter's long, but one can crawl into it and peek out from the basalt columns, which create a roof over this stronghold of Grettir the Strong.

One can only imagine how strong Grettir really was, seeing that the basalt columns are extremely heavy. Some of the basalt columns are now missing.

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

Here Grettir was able to hide out and protect himself from his enemies. Looking down from the lair, as can be seen on my photo above, one can see how steep and difficult the climb up to the lair was. From his hiding place Grettir would have had plenty of rocks to throw at his enemies. 

The view from the lair is excellent, but the lair cannot be seen from below, so that would have put Grettir at an advantage point as well.

Now a path has been made to the lair from the other side.

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

Some say that Grettir stayed on this rock for one year, others say that he stayed here for 3 years. It must have been very lonely, cold and tiresome.

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

We walked twice up to Grettisbæli, as on our first visit we turned to the right from the parking lot and hiked up a mountain which was really difficult to climb, thinking that up there must be the lair of Grettir.

After having looked for it for quite a while and crawled up and down the scree and further and further up, we decided on this being way too dangerous and headed down again.

The Lair of the Viking Grettir the Strong in Öxarnúpur in North-East Iceland

This part of the mountain is right in front of the parking lot. There is a protruding rock there as well.  If you are looking for Grettisbæli walk to the left of this part of the mountain, not straight towards it as we did, and take the path that leads you through the grassy land of the farmer until you find another protruding rock from the mountain. There Grettisbæli is located. 

I think it is awesome being able to visit such an old lair of one of our most notorious Vikings.

Now a full day of exploring Melrakkaslétta plain had come to an end and we headed back to Raufarhöfn village on the other side of the Melrakkaslétta peninsula, where we were staying Raufarhöfn village and the mystical Arctic Henge.

Check out these tours to the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and Dettifoss:  Dettifoss, Lake Mývatn and Goðafoss,  Private Dettifoss,  TourDettifoss Waterfall with Flight from ReykjavíkDettifoss Waterfall Super Jeep Tour from Akureyri and Dettifoss Waterfall and Ásbyrgi Canyon Tour from Akureyri.

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