Berserkjahraun – Iceland - Atlas Obscura


This scenic Icelandic lava flow is named for a pair of Berserkers who were murdered, according to a famous Saga. 


The Berserkjahraun is a 3-4,000 year old lava field with scenery that ranges from nubby moss-covered rocks to jutting spikes of hardened lava. 

The rocky field gets its name from a part of the Icelandic Eyrbyggia Saga. As the tale goes, a 10th century farmer had two Berserkers, laborers from Sweden who were known for their large size and general aggressiveness, who worked for him.  One of the men fell in love with the farmer’s daughter and asked to marry her and while the farmer wanted to refuse he was a little afraid of doing so. He consulted with the local chieftain who suggested he allow the marriage IF the Berserker would first complete a certain (he believed impossible) task: forging a road through the lava field so that the farmer wouldn’t have to travel such a long distance around it when he wanted to get to the other side. The Berserker agreed, and he and his compatriot set to work right away, putting all their “berserk” aggressive energy to the task. They finished in no time. 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.

The road, and their supposed burial place, can still be found crossing Berserkjahraun. Modern archeological excavation of the site even found the remains of two large men, lending a surprising amount of credibility to the historical veracity of the tale.

Know Before You Go

The lava field is on a dirt road just off of Highway 54 (Snæfellsnesvegur) between Stykkishólmur and Grundarfjörður.

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