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Helgafell, Three Wishes, and Our Ancestors

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

Yesterday, we climbed the famous Helgafell (holy mountain). It is very close to the childhood home of our friend and guide, Halldór Arnason, of Stykkishólmur.

It is an important place on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula that was considered highly sacred from early settlement times. People were thought to enter the mountain upon their death.

There was an Augustinian monastery here from 1184-1550. This site is still regarded as sacred today.

A famous woman from the Laxdæla Saga, Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir (970-1008), is buried at the foot of the mountain. I am a descendant of hers in many different ways – the closest one being the Ólafsson lineage and she is my 25th Great Grandmother – so maybe your ancestor, too.

You can make three wishes at the top of the mountain if you follow these exact rules:

  • First, find the grave of Guðrún. It is north of the church and the cemetery.

  • Make sure that your mind is free of bad thoughts

  • Make a cross over Guðrún´s grave with your right hand

  • It is important that you climb the mountain with good thoughts

  • Make sure that you are not dirty and that you have washed your face

  • Do not talk at all on the way to the wishing place

  • Do not look to the right or to the left – just look straight ahead

  • Go into the small enclosure (maybe this was once a chapel of the monastery and they prayed from here. A part of the wall has been dated at 1184.)

  • Face to the east. (The town of Stykkishólmur can be seen to the north)

  • When you make your wishes, they must be only for the good

  • Make three wishes

  • Tell no one about your wishes

  • Enjoy the view and have the freedom to talk and look all around — even backwards.

The enclosure on top of Helgafell

Here is where you make your 3 wishes facing east.

More about Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir:

She is one of the main characters in the Laxdæla Saga. She was very beautiful and intelligent. According to Hálfdan Helgason, there is a quote in the Saga, She was “a woman of such courtliness that whatever finery other women wore, they seemed like mere trinkets beside hers. She was the shrewdest and best-spoken of all women; and she had a generous disposition.”

She was with many different men. Her first marriage ended in a divorce. Her second husband was drowned at sea. The next two were foster-brothers to each other. She was engaged to the one called Bolli but was in love with Kjartan. Bolli killed Kjartan and then the relatives of Kjartan killed Bolli.

The family lived at Helgafell after they took over the home of the famous Snorri Goði.

Then Guðrún married for the fourth time to Þorkell Eyjólfsson, a great chieftain. They had a son named Gellir Þorkelsson in 1009 at Helgafell. This is my 24th great grandfather (and probably yours, too). Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir had famous ancestors, too —- and so, they are your ancestors! In the chart below, you can see Göngu-Hrólfur (846-930). He was so huge that no horse could carry him. That is why he had the nickname Göngu or Ganger, which means ‘The Walker.’ He is a famous Norwegian Viking in the Icelandic Sagas and was also a Duke of Normandy.

On Guðrún´s other branch, you see Björn “austræni” Ketilsson (842). He was a settler in Iceland and was a descendant of Ketil Flat-Nose Björnsson, the son of Lord Björn Grímsson of Norway. Most of Ketill´s family fled to Iceland. Ketill´s daughter, Auð the Deep-Minded married King Olaf the White of Dublin (also our ancestors and I have a little bit about her here

Below, you will see the ancestors of Guðrún (thank you to Hálfdan Helgason).

She is buried at the foot of Helgafell Mountain. So, go to see your ancestor and climb Helgafell to make your three wishes.

Björn “austræni” Gjaflaug Kjallaksdóttir Hrólfur Rögnvaldsson

Ketilsson ca 855 (Göngu-Hrólfur),

ca 842 karl í Normandí

ca 846-ca 930

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Óttar Bjarnason Kaðlín Hrólfsdóttir

ca 880 ca 880

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Helgi Óttarsson Niðbjörg

ca 910 ca 910

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Ósvífur “spaki” Helgason

ca 940


Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir

ca 970

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