Halfway between Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur is an enormous lava field created from an ancient lava flow from 3,000-4,000 years ago. Seemingly frozen in time, soft green moss with vibrant hues of red and orange cover the elaborate basalt forms.
Berserker lava field in the sagas
According to the Eyrbyggja Saga, a ‘berserker’ was promised the hand of a local resident’s daughter if he cleared a path through the lava field, but was instead rewarded with murder upon completion of the task. As the tale goes, a 10th century farmer called Viga-Styrr had two Berserkers, from Sweden, who worked for him. One of the men fell in love with the farmer’s daughter and asked to marry her. While the farmer wanted to refuse he was a little afraid of doing so.
He consulted with the local chieftain. The lord suggested he allow the marriage if the berserker would first complete an impossible task. The chieftain proposed forging a road through the rugged lava field in one day. If they did Styr wouldn’t have to travel such a long distance around it when he wanted to get to the other side to where his brother lived. The berserker agreed. He and his compatriot set to work right away, putting all their “berserk” aggressive energy to the task.
They finished before sundown. Simultaneously pleased about the road and alarmed by his prospective son-in-law, the farmer invited the two Berserkers to relax their tired muscles in a special sauna he had built for them. However this was a trap and the farmer killed and buried them both.
Can you see the path in Berserker lava field that the berserkers made?
Yes, you can. It starts at the Shark Museum in Bjarnarhofn and goes to south east. Not far from the path archaeologists found a barrow, in which they found the bones of two burly men. Perhaps these men were the berserkers that Viga-Styrr murdered.
However, there is another explanation to the name to the lava field. Many have speculated that the name is derived from the four barren volcanoes that tower over the lava field. Due to their barrenness they were called Berserks.
Where did the Berserker lava field come from?
The lava field was created from an lava flow from 3000-4000 years ago. The lava came from the volcanoes Raudkula, Grakula and Korhraunskula.