During my search for the remaining turf houses in Iceland I visited the beautiful Laxárdalur valley in North-Iceland. In that valley Þverá turf houses are located. It is a large, exceptionally well made, traditional Icelandic turf house with outbuildings. Here the most comprehensive habitation remains in Iceland can be seen.
I love this beautiful turf house - it is my husband's old family manor, i.e. his ancestors lived here and one of his relatives, Áskell Jónasson, is still living next to the farm, in a house built in 1964. That relative was brought up on the turf farm and he took us on the grand tour of Þverá turf house.
Almost all of Iceland's remaining turf houses now belong to our National Museum Þjóðminjasafn Íslands and are a part of the National Museum's Historic Buildings Collection. Þverá turf farm has belonged to the museum since 1968 and it was preserved in 1990.
These beautiful turf houses at Þverá (9 in all) date back to the 19th century and were built in 1849-1851. People lived in the turf farm until 1964. Times have changed for sure. Once upon a time everybody in Iceland lived in turf houses, rich and poor alike.
Seeing that in this area there is a lot of lava then these turf houses are mainly built up of lava rock much like my old family turf houses at Grenjaðarstaður, which is very close to Þverá turf house. The roofs of the turf house are insulated with dwarf-birch and covered with turf.
We were guided through this large turf house and Áskell told us about what it was like growing up here as a boy. Inside there is an old hearth kitchen and a pantry, 2 living rooms, a sitting room and many other rooms, including the cowshed.
A creek was channelled through one of the rooms, giving the inhabitants access to water all year round - an interior well, very clever. This area was also used as a cold store.
Upstairs the bedrooms are located - called "baðstofa" in Icelandic. In the baðstofa area people would sleep, eat and work. There is a passageway taking you from room to room, mind your head as people were smaller in the olden days - and I managed to bang my head once again! And I am not very tall.
In this old turf farm the oldest cooperative in Iceland was founded "Kaupfélag Þingeyinga" in 1882.
The church at Þverá is an Annex church of the benefice at Grenjaðarstaður. The current stone church was built in 1878, but there were older churches on this spot, dating way back to the middle ages.
Last time we visited Þverá we noticed, when visiting the church, that a sheep was walking on the roof of the turf farm - happily eating the grass turf on the roof. As soon as it noticed the farmer though it got spooked and ran away - I guess it must have done this before and known that it is not allowed ;)
Next to the turf farm is a cowshed and outhouses are just behind the farm. Áskell has worked on restoring the turf farm and the turf outhouses himself with the help of experts in the field of restoring turf houses, Fornverk under the guidance of our National Museum.
One of the outhouses that are being rebuilt is a 140-150 year old stable, built in 1860-1880. This old stable was rebuilt in 1936. It is a small stable, housing ca 1-2 horses and 1-2 cows. I don't have a photo of the old stable though as it is being rebuilt.
There are other outhouses, the two connected outhouses for lambs called Lambhúsin. They were rebuilt in 1995-1997 and are so pretty in my opinion.
Fornverk has also built a car park with a stone wall. I just love visiting Þverá, there is something magical about this place.
The surroundings in Laxárdalur valley are ever so beautiful. One of the best known salmon fishing rivers in Iceland, Laxá, runs through the valley. Þverá turf house is on the edge of Aðaldalshraun lava fields, where the lava takes on all kinds of form.
Þverá in Laxárdalur valley is kind of off the beaten path, but it is so worth the while taking the detour into the valley to visit this beautiful turf house.
I have been visiting and writing about all of the remaining turf houses and turf churches in Iceland in other blog posts: Laufás turf house, Grenjaðarstaður turf house, Glaumbær turf house, Bustarfell turf house, Sænautasel turf house, Keldur turf house, Tyrfingsstaðir turf house, Galtastaðir-fram turf house, Grænavatn turf house and Austur-Meðalholt turf house. There are a couple of others, which I will be writing about later on.
To visit this area you can either rent a car in Reykjavík or buy a Summer 7 Day Self Drive Tour|North Iceland & Mývatn.