There is a big turf farm in Skagafjörður in North-Iceland, Glaumbær turf farm - but there is another turf farm in Skagafjörður as well- close to ring-road 1, but off the beaten track. It is called Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm at Kjálki. The first written source on this turf farm is a contract of sale which dates back to 8th of January 1478, but it is believed that there has been a farm here since before year 1300.
There are several turf houses here, the turf farm, which consists of 5 buildings and 4 outhouses, one of which has a stockyard. These turf houses date back to 1870-1895. I love the turf house with the timber house facade, which dates back to 1904. So cute somehow and I am so glad that some of the turf houses in Iceland have remained, so we can see how Icelanders used to live.
It is said that Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm is a good indicator of what the typical turf farms looked like in the first half of the 20th century. Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm is built in a style which was common in North Iceland, the Marbæli style.
These turf houses are made from turf, stone and timber. Some of the walls and the gables are made from turf alone, creating a beautiful pattern. The roof is turf, which makes the turf house blend in perfectly with the surrounding nature. The walls on the inside are panelled with staves.
It is a beautiful sight looking at these turf houses from above and totally takes one back to the olden days. The landscape is breathtaking here, with the beautiful red gorge in the background. It is just like looking at a painting.
Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm was inhabited until 1969 and parts of the turf farm were restored in 1960. There is a new farm at Tyrfingsstaðir and the owner of the land, Kristín, lived in the old turf farm with her parents.
The timber building is the main building and connected to it is a lamb shed and a cow shed. There are other outhouses on the land closer to the gorge. These outhouses, which are stables and sheep-cotes, date back to the 19th and 20th century and are in ruins, but still worth a visit.
When you visit Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm you can see that it is under restoration. Most of the turf houses in Iceland now belong to the National Museum of Iceland, Þjóðminjasafnið, but not Tyrfingsstaðir turf farm. It is privately owned by the farmer of the land.
An agreement has been made by the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum and the owner of these old turf houses, that the Heritage Museum teaches old turf house building methods and uses Tyrfingsstaðir turf houses to teach their workshops - and of course the turf houses thus get restored.
I recently met the principal of the school Fornverkaskólinn - Heritage Crafts School, which teaches the old ways of building a turf house, turf laying and such. Fornverkaskólinn is a collaborative project of the Skagafjörður Heritage Museum, the Hólar University College and the North-West Iceland Comprehensive College.
The principal, Helgi, was restoring the outhouses at Þverá turf houses during my visit there, and he told me about the workshops at Tyrfingsstaðir.
The workshops at Tyrfingsstaðir turf houses are held in September and I plan on joining the next workshop, which lasts for 5 days. The website is in Icelandic, but here is the link to the photos from prior seminars.
Helgi is in charge of restoration of all of the remaining turf houses, which are located in different parts of Iceland. It is a massive task maintaining all the turf houses in Iceland.
I am grateful that the remaining turf houses are maintained so well as they are a big part of Iceland's history.
This area by Kjálki leads to the uninhabited highland valley called Austurdalur. In the beautiful gorge runs the glacial river Austari Jökulsá, which together with Vestari Jökulsá forms Héraðsvötn not far from Tyrfingsstaðir turf houses. There is popular river rafting in Austari Jökulsá.
If you want to overnight in Skagafjörður there is a lovely cottage for rent.
I love visiting these turf houses and have written about most of the turf houses in Iceland: