buildings of the farm group date from different periods of the 19th
century and all were built in the turf construction style, which was
universal in rural Iceland until about the turn of the 19th
century. Then it was
gradually replaced by reinforced concrete, which is typical of most
contemporary Icelandic construction.
The Nordic ancestors of the Icelanders had built for the most
part of wood. Extensive
turf construction evolved in Iceland owing to acute shortage of large
trees. Hence, the buildings
at Glaumbaer are the thin shells of wood, all imported, separated from
each other and insulated by thick walls of turf, and roofed with a thick
layer of sod. The Icelandic
grass grows very thickly making this turf and sod strong intertextures
of roots and soil.
buildings in areas of moderate precipitation can last a century.
The roof’s slope must be sloped at the right angle.
If it is too steep, the sods crack during dry spells and the
grass drains too quickly and withers and water will get through.
The same happens if the roofs are too flat and the sods get
saturated with water. It is
too difficult to erect large structures of turf and sod.
Therefore the Icelandic farm was a complex of small, separate
buildings. The most used of
those were united by a central corridor, but tool and storehouses could
only be accessed from outside. The
corridor at Glaumbaer is about 69 feet (21m) long and provides access to
9 of the 13 houses of the farm. Two
intermediate doors along the corridor in addition to the front door kept
cold from penetrating the living quarters.
further information on the individual houses of Glaumbaer in the
brochure of the Museum upon arrival there.
chief renown lies in the actions and influence its inhabitants exerted
both upon Iceland and the world at large. Their exploits ranged from
being among the first settlers in North America and Greenland and to
give birth to the first European on North American soil. They were
heroic and influential people and were featured prominently in the
ancient Icelandic sagas.
The first known inhabitants of Glaumbaer lived there in the 11th
century. They are mentioned in the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga
of Eirikur the Red, which tell of the explorers Leifur Eriksson and his
brother Thorsteinn, sons of Eirikur the Red, of Thorsteinn’s wife
Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, her second husband Thorfinnur karlsefni and
their son, Snorri. Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir is mentioned both in the
Saga of the Greenlanders and in the Saga of Erik the Red. Gudridur, a
granddaughter of an Irish freedman, was born in the 10th
century in Snaefellsnes in western Iceland. She emigrated to the
Icelandic settlement in Greenland founded by Erik the Red, and married
his son Thorsteinn, who soon died. The young widow then married
Thorfinnur karlsefni, a merchant and a farmer from Stadur in Reynines
(now Reynistadur), Skagafiord District.
and Thorfinnur explored Vinland, already discovered by Leifur Eriksson,
Gudridur ’s former brother-in-law and later second husband. They spent
the winter there, and planned to settle permanently. Their son, Snorri,
was born in the New World. Due to conflicts with the Indians, they did
not stay there long, and returned to Iceland. Initially they lived at
Thorfinnur’s old home at Reynines, but then purchased the estate of
Glaumbaer, probably shortly after 1010, and settled there.
Thorfinnur’s day, Snorri took over the estate, and Gudridur decided to
make a pilgrimage to the Pope in Rome, to be absolved of her sins. For a
save return, she vowed to build a church to the glory of god. Snorri had
a church built in his mother’s absence. Upon her return, she was saw
the first known to have stood at Glaumbaer.
On her return Gudridur became an anchoress, and lived in solitary
Gudridur was without doubt one of the most widely travelled women of her
time. She crossed Europe twice on foot, and made eight ocean journeys.
She was a participant in Nordic exploration of new lands, lived through
the change from heathenism to Christianity, and handled her role well.
The symbolic depiction of Gudridur on this page is a photograph of a
cast of a sculpture by Asmundur Sveinsson, dating from 1939, placed in
front of the church at Glaumbaer.
As house was built during the period 1883-86 at As in Hegranes and moved
to Glaumbaer in 1991. It
represents the architecture, which took over after the era of the sod
houses. It was built to
house a school of the domestic sciences, which was not to be.
When its last inhabitant moved out in 1977, four generations of
the same family had lived there. The
married couple Sigurlaug Gunnarsdottir (1828-1905) and Olafur Sigurdsson
(1822-1908), who built the house, were progressive people and supporters of
youth education. They often
organized courses for boys and girls in their home.
During the period 1870-1900 many of the agricultural reforms in
the area can be traced to As. Sigurlaug
was a keen needle-worker and sowed the first women’s national costume
of the present kind. She
established the first women’s society of the country in 1869 and was
in charge of the first School for Women in the district, founded at As
As, many novelties were introduced.
Some of them were imported and others were improvements of old
procedures or new inventions. The
first pedalled sowing machine was introduced at As in 1870, the first
knitting machine in 1874, the first stove shortly thereafter and the
first spinning jenny in 1882. One
of the sons invented pliers to cut the teeth of the wool-card, which
saved uncounted days of work. At
As was a windmill to grind grain and a pedalled grindstone to sharpen
scythes and other edge-tools. At
As, people got all kinds of instructions and progressive advice, which
led to rationalization.
prototype of Gilsstofa was a wooden sitting-room from the middle of the
19th century. Such
rooms were sometimes added to the sod farms and were predecessors of the
wooden houses built shortly before and around the turn of the 19th
century. This room was
moved four times between farms during the period 1861-1891.
Every time it was moved its purpose and form changed somewhat and
new wooden boards were added.
Olafur Briem of farm Grund in Eyjafiord built this room at farm Espiholl
in 1849 for his brother Eggert. In
1861 Eggert became the district magistrate of Skagafiord and had the
room moved to his new home, Hjaltastadir.
In 1872 it was moved to Reynistadur, where it stood until 1884.
When Johannes Olafsson at farm Gil became magistrate, the room
was moved there. In 1891 it
was moved to Saudarkrokur, where it stood until 1985 and served as a
shop and a dwelling. Eventually
it was reconstructed at Glaumbaer 1996-97, where it serves as the office
of the museums of the Skagafiord District.
North Iceland Saga Trail
Source: The brochures of the Folk Museum.