Do you like ghost stories? Sit back and relax, light your hearth and read this lore of an eerie journey as you scale the trail on Kjölur, Iceland.
Photo above: View from Kjölur towards Hofsjökull and Arnarfell hiðmikla
The Kjölur trail is known for its frenetic weather. One minute you are hiking under the warm sun, next a violent snow squall may confront you as you travel on your journey.
Over the centuries folks began sharing tales that the path had become haunted from ghosts of murderous thieves and battle scared spectres.
These trails were used by the Vikings surrounding their settlement since the 9th century. Vikings journeyed on the Kjölur trail, it was used for travel and migration mainly North and South.
During the 12th and 13th centuries the Age of the Sturlungs, a 44 year war period in the mid 13th century Iceland. It was known to be one of the bloodiest and violent period in Icelandic history. It was documented in the Sturlunga Saga.
Viking Battle scene showing typical cloth and leather clothing
The trails were used by small armies during this period. It was a place where chieftains would meet halfway and negotiate treaties that were later broken. Some of the clashes involved forceful chieftains, called goðar they also officiated as a heathen priests, they accumulated believers and waged many wars.
Below: A depiction of a goði leading the people in sacrificing to Thor in this painting by J. L. Lund
They are called the Sturlungs the most influential clan/tribe in Iceland during this period. By the end of this era the Icelandic Commonwealth collapsed joining Iceland to be part of Norway.
Below illustration of Hákon, King of Norway, and Skule Bårdsson, from Flateyjarbók
This route became hazardous in the 18th century, when the Icelandic criminal Fjalla-Eyvindur and his wife settled there with a band of thieves. This location became known as the “Valley of Thieves.”
In the winter of 1780 Kjölur became infamous when two brothers and three associates journeyed from their rich plantation of Reynisstadur onto the Kjöur trail where they were confronted by a severe snowstorm. All of them froze to death along with hundreds of their freshly purchased sheep. The traveler’s remains were discovered near the Kjölur trail, by a hill called Beinhóll or “Bone Hill.” This name was assigned to this hill from all the dead bones of animals who had perished in extreme frosty weather.
After this tragic incident Kjölur trail was deemed haunted.
So there you have it! A trail that has witnessed many tragic deaths and a haunt of past vicious thieves and battle worn Viking ghouls.
Sources & References:
*All pictures in Public Domain.
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