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


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