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Borgarvirki (Citadel) is both natural and man-made.Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

Borgarvirki is a volcanic plug in north Iceland that historically has been used as a fortress.

Description of Borgarvirki

Borgarvirki can be found on the Vatnsnes Peninsula in north Iceland. It stands at 177 metres (580 feet) above sea-level, and 10 to 15 metres (33 to 49 feet) above its surroundings.

Made of volcanic strata in a columnar shape, it is little wonder why early Vikings saw that it was a perfect place to utilise as a fortress.

As such, Borgarvirki has not just been a natural feature for hundreds of years; it has been added to with walls, stairs and other amendments to further fortify it and make it habitable for humans. Two ruins of human habitations are on site, and there is a freshwater well within it.

It was renovated in 1949 by locals, who put a gravel lintel at its entrance, and a murno glast wall around it.

Historical Use of Borgarvirki

Borgarvirki was used as a fortress historically.Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir.

It is not completely clear who used Borgarvirki, as most of the tales surrounding it are blurred with folklore. It is believed that the clans of the Húna district were those most likely to have used it, to protect themselves from the more powerful clans of the Borgarfjörður district. It seems that it was most used during the Icelandic civil war.

In the Sagas, it is said that two great armies attempted to siege Borgarvirki, and neither were successful.

Other Sites of the Vatnsnes Peninsula

Borgarvirki is close to several other notable sites on the Vatnsnes Peninsula. The area is best known for the Hvítserkur rock formation, an elephant-shaped rock that stands out to sea, said to be a troll frozen in the light of day.

The beaches of the peninsula are some of the best in the country for watching seals, as many colonies haul out on the rocks and play in the waters. To learn more about them, visitors can attend the Icelandic Seal Centre, which is in the area’s largest town, Hvammstangi.

 

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