The History

Haukadalur and Ari the wise

Haukadalur valley is a historical place the settlers in Haukadalur were Þorbrandur Þorbjarnarson and his son Ásbrandur.  Then Hallur Þórarinsson the mild built his farm here in 1025.  The noted Ari fróði Þorgilsson - Ari the Wise (1067-1148), who belonged to the Haukdælir clan, stayed with Hallur for 7 years, from age 7-14. He is the author of Íslendingabók, which details the histories of the various families who settled Iceland, it is actually the first written work of history in Iceland from the Settlement of Iceland until 1118. He is typically referred to as Ari the Wise (Ari hinn fróði), and according to Snorri Sturluson was the first to write history in Old Norse.  Ari the Wise is said to have returned back to Haukadalur to write the Book of Icelanders when he was almost 60 years old.

Ari was a part of the  Haukdælir family clan and studied in the school in Haukadalur as a student of Teitur Ísleifsson (the son of Ísleifur Gissurason, first bishop of Iceland). There he became acquainted with classical education. His writings clearly indicate that he was familiar with Latin chronicler traditions, but at the same time he is widely regarded as excelling in the Icelandic oral storytelling tradition.

Íslendingabók is the only work that is absolutely proven to have been written by him, but he is accredited with numerous articles of knowledge and is believed to have had a major part in the writing of Landnámabók, which chronicles the settlement of Iceland.

Ari was early on regarded as an important author. In Iceland's First Grammatical Treatise, written around 1160 AD, he is referred to with respect as an exceptional man, since the tradition of writing was not firmly established at the time.

From the 11th century and until the 13th century - for 174 years - the manor of the big Viking clan Haukdælir was located in Haukadalur. The patriarch of the Haukdælir clan was the priest Teitur Ísleifsson at Haukadalur (d. 1111), who was raised by the same Hallur Þórarinsson as Ari the Wise had stayed with for 7 years. Teitur was the son of the first Icelandic bishop, Ísleifur Gissurarson (1006-1080). So we can for sure say that Haukadalur is a historic place.

Haukadalskirkja church is at Haukadalur forest. It was built in 1842-43 and rebuilt and enlarged in 1939 by Kristian Kirk.  It is regarded to be one of the oldest timber churches in Iceland. There has been a church in Haukadalur at least since 1121 (some say 1030) and the current church stands on the same foundations as that church. In Catholic times Haukadalskirkja church was dedicated to God, Virgin Mary, St. Andrew, Bishop Marteinn and St. Barbara.


Bergþór Bláfelli

"There was a man (troll) named Bergþór, he lived in a cave in Mt. Bláfell; - he had a wife named Hrefna.  Bergþór didn't hurt anybody if he was not attacked himself and he was thought to be clairvoyant and wise. When Christianity started spreading in Iceland Hrefna urged her husband to move away from Mt. Bláfell north across Hvítá river, because she couldn't stand watching the settlement below after the inhabitants became Christians (trolls were not Christian and shun away from everything having to do with Christianity - RHR).  Bergþór didn't think this mattered at all and told Hrefna that he would stay in the cave.  Hrefna decided on moving anyway and moved north of the river and built a hut beneath a mountain - it has since been called Hrefnubúðir. The couple met after that by lake Hvítárvatn and went trout fishing together. 

When the giant grew older he once went down to Haukadalur valley and asked the farmer at Haukadalur to secure him a grave, where the chime of the church bells could be heard and the sounds of the river which runs by Haukadalskirkja church - he asked the farmer to move his dead body to Haukadalur.  Then the farmer should go and collect his body in his cave in Mt. Bláfell and the payment for his good deed would be found inside his kettle.  As a sign of his death his walking stick would be by the farm door in Haukadalur.  The farmer agreed to this and they parted.

One morning as the country people arrived at Haukadalur they found a huge walking stick by the farm door. The farmer was informed about this and recognized the walking stick of Bergþór.  He had a coffin made and went up to Mt. Bláfell with several men - they found Bergþór dead in his bed in Bergþórshellir cave.  They put him in his coffin and were surprised that such a huge man (troll) didn't weigh more.  The farmer noticed a big kettle by the bed and checked what was inside, and when he only saw leaves inside he gathered that Bergþór had tricked him so he left the leaves behind. But one of the men in his group filled his mitten with leaves.   

When they had descended from the mountain the man who had taken the leaves checked his mittens; they were filled with money!  The farmer and his men returned to the cave to pick up the kettle, but they didn't find the cave and it has been hidden ever since. They returned and carried the body of Bergþór down to Haukadalur;  the farmer had him buried north of the graveyard; it has since been called Bergþórsleiði or the Grave of Bergþór.

The ring from Bergþór's walking stick is the same ring as the one on the shield on the church door, and the spike of the walking stick is also in the possession of the church".