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 covers the elaborate basalt forms.

Berserkjahraun 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. However, he instead was rewarded with murder. As the tale goes, a 10th century farmer named Viga-Styrr employed two Swedish berserkers as farm workers. One of the men fell in love with the farmer’s daughter and asked to marry her. The farmer wanted to refuse, but he was afraid of how the berserker would handle the rejection.

The farmer consulted with the local chieftain. The lord suggested he allow the marriage if the berserker could first complete an impossible task. The chieftain proposed that the berserkers would forge a road through the rugged lava field in one day. If they accomplished this task, the berserker would get his bride. Additionally, Styr wouldn’t have to travel such a long distance around the lava to get to where his brother lived. The two berserkers agreed. They set to work right away, putting all their “berserk” aggressive energy to the task.

They finished before sundown. The farmer was simultaneously pleased about the road and alarmed by his prospective son-in-law. Nevertheless, he 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 both the berserkers. He buried them somewhere in the area.

Not far from the lava field archaeologists found a barrow with the bones of two burly men. Perhaps these were the berserkers that Viga-Styrr murdered?

However, there may be another explanation for the lava field’s name. There are four barren volcanoes that tower over the lava field.  Locals call them the Berserkers.

Can you see the path in Berserkjahraun lava field that the berserkers made?

Yes, you can. It starts at the Shark Museum in Bjarnarhofn and goes southeast.

Where did the lava field actually come from?

Actually, the lava field formed from a lava flow some 3.000-4.000 years ago. The lava flowed from the volcanoes Raudkula, Grakula and Korhraunskula.