Icelandic folklore contains a lot of elf- and troll stories and I have shown you many such locations in my travel-blog. A well-known Icelandic troll story tells us about the 3 trolls who wanted to sever the Westfjords from the mainland of Iceland and keep the Westfjords as troll country.
While staying at Kirkjuból at Strandir for 3 days I visited 2 of the trolls. I had already visited the 3rd troll on several occasions, but that troll is to be found across Steingrímsfjörður bay and gives the name to Drangsnes.
The 2 trolls in the distance in Kollafjörður
I had been looking for the 2 remaining trolls for some time and had driven past them several times without knowing their exact location.
The farmers at Kirkjuból, who run the Kirkjuból guesthouse and Sauðfjársetrið - the Sheep Farming Museum - told me where to find them. The gravel road leading to the trolls is not marked so you will have to know the exact location.
The Sheep Farming Museum and Kirkjuból are located off road 60 some 6 km further along road 68. To reach the 2 trolls drive further along road 68 into Kollafjörður. They are to be found approximately 12 km from the guesthouse Kirkjuból.
Kollafjarðarneskirkja church in the distance and the 2 trolls
Pass Kollafjarðarneskirkja church, which is on your left-hand side and drive for about half a kilometre on road 68, until you reach an unmarked gravel-road on your left.
Drive down this road in the direction of the sea until you see the cairn in my second photo. In the distance, you will see the 2 trolls. It is best to leave your car there and walk down to the trolls. There is a very bumpy and rocky trail leading to the trolls so it is best to walk.
Here you can see the gravel road leading to the trolls. It is above Pálsnaust on the map, where you leave your car and walk down to the trolls in Torfvík
Kollafjarðarnes is wrongly marked on Google maps, so I cannot add the map to my travel-blog as I usually do. Above is a map from the Icelandic website ja.is. The cove is called Torfvík on the map whereas it is called Drangavík in the folklore.
The first time we visited the trolls it was during a rainstorm. The day after the sun shone brightly, so we visited the trolls again to get better photos.
One of the Westfjord trolls
I found the folklore in Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Compilation of Folklore by Jón Árnason. It is called Tröllin á Vestfjörðum or the Trolls in the Westfjords and goes like this:
"In ancient times (after the settlement of Iceland) there were three trolls in the Westfjords who wanted to dig a channel between the Westfjords and the other country (the mainland of Iceland), between Gilsfjörður and Kollafjörður fjords, close to where it is at its narrowest."
Here you can see how the Westfjords look like the head of Iceland
We locals often refer to the Westfjords as the head of Iceland and you will see why if you look at the map. So the trolls wanted to dig through the neck and sever the head from the rest of Iceland.
Holding hands with two of the Westfjord trolls
"At the same time, the trolls had another purpose; they wanted to build islands from the material they dug from the channel.
The trolls digging on the west side had a speedier process, as Breiðafjörður bay was shallower than Húnaflói and two trolls were digging there, Karl and Kerling, and they formed all the islands dotted on Breiðafjörður, looking like skyr with berries."
These islands are innumerable and counted amongst the 3 innumerable things in Icelandic nature. I have written another travel-blog about a boat-tour on Breiðafjörður, where you can see some of the many islands:
One of the Westfjord trolls and my husband
"But the troll woman Kerling on the east side wasn't making much progress by herself, as Húnaflói bay is both deeper and the islands she was supposed to create turned into sunken skerries; everything went awry.
The trolls were digging through the night and didn't pay attention to how quickly time passed and that the sun was rising. When they noticed, the trolls on the west side started running and ran as fast as they could east and north across Steinadalsheiði heath and meant to hide in Kollafjörður bay.
With two of the Westfjord trolls
But as they reached the seafront the sun rose and they got turned into rocks, which are called Drangar. (As we all know then night-trolls get turned into stone by the sun). They stand together at Drangavík close to Kollafjarðarnes cape.
The bigger rock, which is narrower at the bottom is Karl, the Troll, and the other rock is peaked, and fatter at the bottom, so it looks like it has a stomach and even thighs; that is Kerling or the female troll.
The female troll Kerling in Drangsnes on the other side of the fjord
The Kerling who was digging on the east side also got caught by the rays of the sun.
As she noticed the sunrise she jumped north across Steinsgrímsfjörður fjord and stopped by an escarpment north of the fjord, by the name of Malarhorn, where the sun shone upon her.
The female troll Kerling in Drangsnes
Kerling was livid as she had not been able to create but a few islets and skerries on the Húnaflói bay, that she slammed her shovel down in anger and the big blow broke off a piece of land which formed Grímsey island, which still stands in Steingrímsfjörður fjord.
It is the only big island which Kerling was able to create. The story goes that the rocks on the island are of the same material as at Malarhorn, so they seem to be created from the same rock.
Grímsey island and the bull on the left side of the island
On the east side of Grímsey island, you will find a rock in the shape of a bull; it stands tall and erect. This rock is called Uxi or the Bull. Its pointy end looks like a church tower; that is the bull's horns.
The bull belonged to Kerling, but she had left her bull on the part which separated from Malarhorn; the bull then turned into stone as his owner."
Kerling was turned into stone as well while looking back at her bull on the island.
Drangur Kerling looking in the direction of her bull by Grímsey island. It is located at Malarhorn close to the swimming pool in Drangsnes
"Since then nobody has tried to separate the Westfjords from the mainland nor tried to create islands and skerries on the Húnaflói bay and Breiðafjörður fjord".
(Translated into English and recapitulated from Þjóðsögur Jóns Árnasonar - the Compilation of Folklore by Jón Árnason)
This was the story about the 3 trolls, who meant to separate the Westfjords from the mainland of Iceland. I love such stories and search for their locations on my travels around Iceland.
Uxinn - the Bull by Grímsey island
I have heard an explanation about why the trolls wanted to keep the Westfjords to themselves and live there while the Vikings could keep the mainland. Trolls are not Christian and hate the sound of church bells, so they most likely just wanted to stay in peace in the Westfjords and well away from the church bells in Iceland.
So this folklore dates back to after the year 1000, after the Christianisation of Iceland. You can find out more about the Christianisation of Iceland in my travel-blog about Goðafoss: The Historical Goðafoss Waterfall in Skjálfandafljót River in North-Iceland.
The troll in Kollafjörður is huge compared to my husband
You will see such pillars of rock in many places in Iceland and many of them have folklore connected to them. They are either called Kerling or Karl, depending on their sex and they usually come in pairs; Karl and Kerling.
Not the one in Drangsnes though as she stands alone and has no male troll, only the bull.
Drangsnes gets its name from this pillar of rock, but such a pillar of rock is called drangur in Icelandic. The pillars of rock in this travel-blog are typical dykes.
See also my travel-blog:
To visit this area you can rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to Strandir in around 3.5 hours.
I have written a long travel-blog about my trip to Strandir The remote Strandir in the Westfjords of Iceland - Stillness & Sorcery if you want to know what this sparsely populated area of the Westfjords has got to offer.
And if you want to see an elf-rock close to the Westfjord trolls, then I have included it in my previous travel-blog: 3 Wonderful Days at Kirkjuból and the Sheep Farming Museum at Strandir in the Westfjords.
Also check out the interesting villages close by:
Have a lovely time at Strandir and I hope you get to meet the trolls :)