A Short History of Grímsstadir á Fjöllum
The general area north of Grímsstadir was settled not long after the first vikings came to Iceland. The first known farm close to the current location of Grímsstadir dates to around the year 1367. In the year 1900 the estate was moved 7 kilometers southeast and farming began at the current location. Grímsstadir used to be a ferry point for the glacier river Jökulsá and in 1946 the river was bridged - effectively connecting the northwest of the country to the northeast and making Grímsstadir an important stop along the single main highway which runs the entire circumference of Iceland.
Grímsstadir has always been a relatively fertile land with harsh winters and mild summers, and there is an important weather station located at Grímsstadir. In 1944 the Soil Conservation Service of Iceland began conducting extensive work combating erosion in the area. These conservation efforts have been very successful and significant areas have been restored which greatly enhanced the quality of the soil in the area. Sheep farming at Grímsstadir ended in 1989 and further soil conservation efforts were undertaken at this time.
Today Grímsstadir is a popular tourist destination due to the numerous natural wonders in the surrounding area. There is a guest house and tourist service on the land which was started 10 years ago, and is run by one of the owners of the property. Numerous daytrips and excursions are organized with Grímsstadir as a starting point.
Superstition and Nature
Superstition has always been prevalent in Iceland and there is a great tradition of folk-tales and sagas being passed down through the generations. Stories of elves, trolls, witchcraft and magic flourished for centuries due to the relatively late introduction of Christianity and the strong Nordic Viking culture which is, even today, prevalent in Iceland. Some say the inspiration for these tales stem from the relative isolation of inhabitants in Iceland throughout the centuries, and the magnificence and sense of mystery Icelandic nature tends to evoke in people. There is not a region in Iceland which doesn't have several folk-tales attached to its history – and Grímsstadir á Fjöllum is no different. One story tells of Grímsstada-Jón (John from Grímsstadir) who valiantly defended the property from a duo of malicious priests sometime between 1700 and 1737. The priest had resolved to the dark arts of black magic in an attempt to kill Jón, or scare him as to vacate the land. The two priests were jealous of Jón’s wealth and prosperity – as he had a great deal of good farmland at Grímsstadir. They would send malicious spirits (ghosts) to haunt Jón, but Jón defended himself and even managed to send them back at the priests. As a last resort, the two evil priests attempted to go after Jón’s workers and livestock - but Jón stubbornly resisted their ill spirited attempts and prevailed in standing his ground. Today Iceland is fortunately - mostly - free of elves and ghosts, so there's probably no need to worry.
"Dimmuborgir" (or "Dark Castles") lava formations near Lake Myvatn
When spending time in Icelandic nature it is not difficult to imagine the ethereal and mystical qualities the locals would attribute to the world surrounding them. The vast plains, monumental mountains, roaring waterfalls and mystical lava formations are infused with mythical connotations and tend to inspire the imagination. All around Grímsstadir á Fjöllum these features are in abundance.