Haukadalur Valley which is near the fishing village Þingeyri
(Thingeyri) is very peaceful, surrounded by beautiful
tall mountains. It is the site of love, jealousy,
murder and revenge. It is here that most of the Gisla-Saga
is one of the better known sagas in Iceland since it
is taught in the elementary schools. It has been said
that the story itself, so well written, is enough to
travel with if you are interested in seeing the sites
where the saga took place.
(Thorbjorn) sur, who was Gisli´s father had been
driven away from Norway with his family. He landed
his ship in the mouth of the Haukadalur River and made
his home at Saeból. Gisli, Thorbjorns son, along
with his brother and their wives had made their home
at Hóll (Hill). Hóll stood on a hill
called Gislahill. It is in the middle of a field with
a beautiful view over the Haukadalur Valley. Below
the Gislahill was once a stream that Gisli had waded
in on his way from Saeból and back when he killed
Thorgrim, a heathen priest. The stream is now dry but
because of this murder, Gisli was sentenced to exile.
He was an outlaw for many years, until he was killed
in Geirthofsfjordur. Right below the slope where Thorgrim
was killed is a pond called Seftjörn. Here took
place winter sports such as ball games, which actually
lead to the death of Thorgrím.
The Gisla-Saga projekt
These sites and many others are part of the Gisla-Saga
project that is on going in the Westfjords in Iceland. All
part of a bigger project called “Destination Viking
Sagaland”, whose objective is to make an assessment
of the Viking heritage and tourism.
Dorothee Lubecki, representative of travel affairs
in the Westfjords has been preparing this project,
with others for the past two years and invited the
local people in Thingeyri to a meeting in march this
year. She informed the guests of what has been going
on for the past year and what the plan looked like
for the next three years, which included involving
the local people and others that are interested in
participating in the project. Since Thingeyri
is located so close to Haukadalur Valley it was considered
a good choice for the center of the project. A lot
of good ideas have emerged from the discussion of
this project and some have been put into use, like
guided walking tours in Haukadalur Valley where as
said before most of the Gisla-Saga took place.
What has been going on in Thingeyri since the meeting?
To start out with a course in tablet-weaving was held.
Participants learned the basics of tablet weaving.
The colorful belts that can be made are used to decorate
the clothing from Viking times. Edda Graichin was the
Then there was a course in sewing clothes and shoes
from the Viking age. It was held on weekends in April
and May. Over 30 costumes were being sewn by participants
from the age of 13 to 76 years old. The
costumes were sewn out of hand-woven wool, linen and
silk and the shoes were sewn out of lambs leather.
Kristína Bergman, from Reykjavík was
the instructor. She has designed and sewn all the Viking
costumes that are on display in the Perlunni í Reykjavík.
Other activities in Thingeyri
the past years a festival has been held in the summer
in Thingeyri. A large tent is put up where people can
sell there handmade merchandise, baked goods and much
more. The festival is called “Dýrafjarðardagar” and
last year we were visited by Vikings from Reykjavik
which have specialized in fighting with swords and
a few of our own Vikings
(the ones that were able to finish their costumes).
Viking tents were borrowed from a Viking association
in Hafnarfirði that holds its own Viking festival
Gallery Koltra, a handwork's group in Thingeyri, specializes
in selling handmade goods has also taken interest in
the Gisla-Saga project.
What lies ahead?
outcome of the courses that have been held in connection
with this project show that the local people in Thingeyri
are very interested in participating. On the last day
of the sewing course five people were chosen to prepare
the next stages of the project which is to form a committee
or association around the project that has its own
manager and steering committee. They held several meetings
with Dorothee to prepare for a general meeting with
all interested parties in Thingeyri. The meeting was
in held in the community house in Thingeyri. The preparation
committee explained their ideas of how they see this
association take part in the whole project and with
their own projects in the future. A steering
committee of five people was nominated and two people
as substitutes, their job will be to raise funds and
carry out cost estimates, time plans and prepare more
courses in connection with the Viking Ages. For example,
building a little Viking town making tools, jewelry
and other handcrafts. They will also, in cooperation
with other members of the association create
and promote a positive image for the project of Gisla
Sursson in order to increase the flow of guests to
the area and put into action some of the ideas that
have already arisen and the ones that come to mind
in the next few years.
Photo:Sonja Elín Thompson
has been done since the committee was established?
They have established a non-profit organization and
found a name for the project which is West Vikings or
in Icelandic Vikingar a Vestfjordum . They are
preparing a website which will be launched on the internet
this year and designing saga signs that will be in
three languages. The signs will be put up on the most
interesting places by the roads in Westfjords according
to the most important events in Gisla Saga. This will
be done in cooperation with the Traffic Ministry.
Photo: Páll Önundarsson
drawings and budget plans for the building of the first
part of the Viking site were agreed upon and we are
very proud to say that it was possible to construct
and use this summer when the yearly festival “Dyrafjardardagar” was
Elín Thompson -Thingeyri, Iceland
first published in "Viking Heritage" 3/2004