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Ljosavatn

Region: North Iceland
Coordinates: 65.683272° N 17.623272° W

Ljosavatn is a lake, farm and a church site in Pass Ljosavatnsskard near the mouth of Valley Bardardalur. It was an official assembly place for the district and common assembly place until the turn of the 19th century and a primary and secondary school during the period 1908-14.

Ljosavatn is best known as the residence of the pagan chieftain Thorgeir Thorkelsson before and after the year 1000. That year, the common parliament for the whole country, Althingi, was to choose between Paganism and Christianity as the state religion. The majority of the people was pagan, but Christians had lived in the country from the beginning and many had been babtized since the Age of Settlement. The armies of both groups stood in the Parliamentary Plains ready to fight for their believes, when wise men succeeded in convincing the assembly to leave the decision up to one of the chieftains and Thorgeir was chosen. He accepted this responsibility on the condition, that there would be no disputes about his decision, and left to deliberate. His decided for Christianity, and most of the people attending were babtized on the spot or on their way home.

Thorgeir’s grandfather, Thorkell mani, was among the settlers of the country. He built his farm at Oxara, on the banks of a river by the same name, nowadays the southernmost farm of County Ljosavatn. Big family houses descended from the so-called Ljosvetninga Clan, such as the ones named after the farms Reykjahlid and Skutustadir on Lake Myvatn.

North Iceland Saga Trail

Photo Credit: Kirkjukort.net

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