Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Laugarvatn, Iceland - consecrated pool and bier stones

Following the conversion of the pagan Icelanders to Christianity at the Þingvellir Althing in 1000AD, the Kristni Saga decribes how the Icelanders from the north and south [of the country) were baptised at the hot pool of Reykir at Laugardalur - because they did not want to be baptised in cold water [at the Althing].

As recorded by Rev. John Egilsson in the Bishop's Annals (1601 - 1605): this site is also credited as the place to which the bodies of the Bishop Jon Arason and his two sons a priest and lawmen respectively - were conveyed to in 1551 - and where they were washed and dressed for formal burial following their beheading in the November of the previous year.

The six stones in situ are known as the Likasteinar or "body stones" as upon which the coffins were placed at rest.

N.B. information via interpretation board at the site.

The lake at Laugarvatn provided great opportunity to watch whooper swan (Cynus cygnus), mute swan (Cygnus olors), greylag geese (Anser anser), red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator), goosander (Mergus merganser), wigeon (Anas penelope), teal (Anas crecca), and find amongst the large rafts of tufted duck (Aythya fuligula) two pairs of scaup (Aythya marila); whilst distant red-throated diver (Gavia stellata) and a solitary inland fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis), added further interest.

Around the village meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis), redshank (Tringa totanus), oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus), white wagtail (Motacilla alba alba) and redwing (Turdus iliacus) sang and displayed loudly; as snipe (Gallinago gallinago) "drummed" overhead. Raven (Corvus corax) the only corvid on the wing.

Within the scrubby wooded slopes of the Laugarvatnsfjall common (mealy) redpoll (Carduelis flammea), and goldcrest (Regulus regulus) sang, and a male ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus) was seen.

One morning, a large hoofed animal was also heard moving briskly away from us in the thick of the woods perhaps suggesting a possible near encounter with a solitary reindeer (Rangifer tarandus)?

consecrated pool and bier stones


A Parliament Born Of Ice and Fire - Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

The geological history of Þingvellir National Park is forged in the fire of volcanoes and the cooling stresses of glacial immersion, torn by the effects of continental drift.

Þingvellir or Parliament Plains, is the site of Iceland's AlÞing general assembly from Ca. 930 - 1798.

The site at which in 1000, the pagan Law Speaker, Þorgeir Ljosvetninggagooi was given the decision to choose the religion of which all Icelanders should worship. Choosing Christianity, he united a population that had previously been divided by religious belief in which both pagans and christians had set up alternative laws and parliaments refusing to acknowledge each other's laws.

For a detailed history of the site see:

Hrafnagjá fault looking south

Hrafnagjá fault looking north

in the Almannagjá fault

the Sturlunga Saga describes how
the River Oxara was diverted into
the Almannagjá fault

Waterfall in the Almannagjá fault

redwing (Turdus iliacus)

singing white wagtail (Motacilla alba alba)
by the waterfall

two views of the
Almannagjá fault (looking south)

greylag goose (Anser anser)

raven (Corvus corax) with greylag goose egg

River Oxara flowing down to Lake Þingvallavatn

harlequin duck (Histrionicus histrionicus)
on the River Oxara

 displaying ♂♂ harlequin duck

 Almannagjá fault as it meets the northern edge of
Lake Þingvallavatn