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Sandfell Farm

About Sandfell Farm

Sandfell is an abandoned farm in the Oraefi District, a former church site and a parsonage. The widow of Asbjorn Heyangurs-Bjarnson, Thorgerdur, built the first farmhouses there according to the Book of Settlements. She lost her husband at sea. She appropriated her property by leading a heifer between the rivers Kota and Skeidara on a spring day between sunrise and sunset. Her brother-in-law, Helgi, built his farm nearby at Raudilaekur, where the main church, which served until the eruption in 1362, was built later. After this devastating eruption the new church was built at Sandfell.

The glacier bursts in the wake of the 1362 and 1727 eruptions rushed down the slopes on each side of farm Sandfell, and in 1727 Mt Sandfellsfjall above the farm erupted as well. Depressions and mounds in the landscape left by gigantic, molted blocks of ice (hverir; plural) can be spotted all around the farmstead on the alluvial plains (some of them have been declared inviolate).

When the latter eruption started on August 7th 1727, services were being held in the church at Sandfell. The glacier burst followed the next day and two maids, a shepherd and a great number of sheep were killed at the summer pastures just south of the farm.

Mt Sandfellsfjall is steep and barren. On the moorland above it is the so-called Church Bell Gorge, which was inhabited by ogres according to the legend. In 1973, some students of the Aarhus Art Academy faculty of architecture measured and blueprinted the houses and surroundings of farm Sandfell. Shortly afterwards the houses were demolished and a memorial was placed on the foundations of the ancient church.

Sandfell Farm is on the Saga trail for South Iceland.