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HVITARVELLIR

Region: West Iceland
Coordinates: 64.5909° N 21.7010° W

Hvitarvellir is a farm near the former road # 1 and the largest arch bridge of the country, built in 1928 across River Hvita. Is was an important estate during the latter part of the 19th and the first part of the 20th century. Farms Hvitarvellir, Ferjukot and Ferjubakki are among the very few farms of the country, where the farmers still enjoy the traditional rights of netting salmon in river estuaries. The Sagas frequently mention an ancient trading post in the estuary of River Hvita near Hvitarvellir and the river was used for transport up to the confluence of River Thvera until 1930. Ruins of the dwellings of the traders are near the Budarhofdi mound by the estuary.

In 1751 a fire claimed seven lives at Hvitarvellir. Many believed, that the ghost Hvitarvellir-Skotta was responsible. This female ghost played tricks on the clergy of the parsonage and killed several cow herders and cattle. Another ghost, Stormhottur, was more benevolent and watched the hay on the fields of Hvitarvellir.

One of the sub-governors of the country, Stefan Stephensen, lived for a while at Hvitarvellir. More of his relatives occupied the estate during the most influential era of this dynasty. A Scot, James Ritchie, built a factory in Borgarnes in 1858 to conserve salmon. He moved it to the confluence of Rivers Hvita and Grimsa the next year. This factory employed many English and Icelandic workers for about 16 years. His endeavours reached as far as Akranes, now the largest town in the western part of the country. He used a small steamboat to transport raw materials and the products. The operation was discontinued in 1876 because of the increased competition and the export of iced salmon.

The French Baron and artist, Gauldréc de Boilleu, bought the estate in 1898 and moved there. He started the largest cattle breeding in the country and built a cow shed for 40 heads of cattle in the capital. This house still stands on the corner of the streets Hverfisgata and Baronstigur. He owned the steamboat Hvita, which he used for transport between Hvitarvellir and the capital. He built a holiday house on Lake Langadalsvatn. He committed suicide in London in 1901, when he supposedly was trying to finance the establishment of a fisheries’ company.

West Iceland Saga Trail

Links in HVITARVELLIR