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Vatnsdalur

Region: North Iceland
Coordinates: 65.4313889° N 20.2980556° W

About Vatnsdalur

The Lake Valley is well vegetated and prosperous looking. The valley’s first settler was Ingimundur the Old. A grove there is dedicated to his daughter, Thordis, who was the first native of the Huna District. The eastern slopes bear witness to many landslides, which have shaped the landscape and taken many lives over the centuries, just like the avalanches.

The mouth of the valley is dotted with a cluster of mounds and hillocks, which are one of three natural phenomena considered innumerable in this country. A landslide at the end of the ice age created them. It dammed up the valley and a lake was created. This lake gradually disappeared when its discharge carved deeper through the new landscape and a much younger landslide created the present lake in the valley in 1720. The total area of the hillocks is about four km².

The northernmost part of it, just north of road # 1, is called Thristapar, or The Three Hummocks, where the last execution in Iceland took place in 1830. Two young people, a man and a woman, (Friðrik Sigurðsson and Agnes Magnúsdóttir) committed arson, and two men lost their lives in the fire. The delinquents were beheaded, their heads put on stakes and their bodies buried on the spot. Their bodies were moved and reburied in consecrated ground in the 20th century. Both the axe and the block are on display in the National Museum in the capital. River Vatnsdalsa and the lake are renowned for trout, char, and salmon fishing.

Photo Credit: Christian Bickel

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