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Iceland’s Ghosts – Happy Halloween

Updated: Jul 26, 2021

Happy Halloween! Today we learn a bit about an ancient ghost, Hekla volcano, a ghost museum, an amazing replica Viking era farm, and more.

Gaukur Trandilsson is an ancient ghost who lived at a farm called Stöng in the Þjórsardalur area of Iceland. According to the Sagas, his foster-brother, Ásgrímur Ellida-Grímsson killed him after they battled with axes because Gaukur pursued an affair with Ásgrímur´s sister. Gaukur is still known to be haunting the area.

Years later, in 1104, one of the most famous stratovolcanoes, Hekla, devastated the Þjórsardalur area and ash covered many of the farms including Stöng. Folklore tells us people believed the souls of condemned people traveled to hell through Hekla. Other tales tell how witches would meet with their leader at the top of the mountain at Easter. Some eruptions are short and mild but some of the Hekla eruptions are violent and very powerful such as this eruption in 1104.

hekla volcano

Volcano experts believe that Hekla has had at least 20 eruptions since the settlement era. In 1939, archaeologists excavated some of the farms in the area and the ancient farm of Stöng was one of those unearthed. A replica called Þjóðveldisbærinn with the medieval buildings including a church were built near the road with easy access. The original ruins can also be viewed if you have a good 4WD truck. This is in the Þjórsárdalur Þjórsá (River) Dalur (Valley) on the eastern side of Árnessýsla in southern Iceland. There are many beautiful waterfalls and valleys to be found in this area going from Stokkseyri on the southern coast and heading northeast up to Þjórsárdalur about one hour of driving time. The highland area of Þjórsárdalur was a filming location for the Game of Thrones. - Gernot Keller.

Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons

Have you visited the Ghost Centre (Draugasetrið) at Stokkseyri in Iceland? It is a ghost museum featuring 24 of the most famous ghosts of Iceland. You walk through the museum while stories are told to you through a headset. It is not recommended for children ages 12 or under. Gaukur is one of the ghosts they feature at this museum.

The Saga of Gaukur á Stöng is one of the lost sagas. Apparently, this man named Gaukur was well known but never written down. He is mentioned in many old writings and also on a tomb in the Orkney Islands where the runes were carved using the axe that belonged to Gaukur Trandilsson.

An interesting genealogy fact ..... Ásgrímur is my 24th Great Grandfather. He is the one who killed Gaukur in the axe battle. He is probably your ancestor, too. They are mentioned in Njál's and Egil's Sagas. Gaukur was "the boldest of men." Find out how he and other famous ancestors are related to you at

Here is a great link to the replica farm: Þjóðveldisbær

Want to learn how to pronounce the names of the Icelandic ghosts?

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