The Saga of Vopnafjöður

The Saga of the People of Vopnafjordur is one of the Icelandic sagas and part of the most important cultural heritage of Icelanders - our literary heritage. This saga was probably written about 1225 to 1250 about incidents happening about 960-990. The saga setting is Vopnafjordur, actually in an area mostly on the east side of Hofsárdalur, from Böðvarsdalur near the sea and inland to the valleys and highlands. It is easy today to visit or see most of the places mentioned in the saga. The Saga of the People of Vopnafjordur is about the conflict between two men, both leaders, who were covetous, greedy, and power-seeking - but also important in this saga are friendship, personality differences between people, and their ways of life in those times.


An archeologic investigation in 2006 revealed building ruins from the time of the Hofverja, as they were called, not far from the present church at Hof.


One of the main people in the saga is Helgi Þorgilsson, whose nickname was Brodd-Helgi. He was raised at Hof and later farmer and chieftain at Hof. As a young boy, Helgi fastened a piece of iron to a bull's head so it would win a struggle with another bull, and that is the source of Helgi's nickname. When still a teenager, Brodd-Helgi stepped in on the fight between the farmers Svartur and Skíði and judged Svartur guilty. Svartur fled up on Smjörvatnsheiði and Brodd-Helgi followed him and attacked him armed with shield and a flat stone which he had fastened in his breeches below the shield. He killed Svartur and was famous for this deed.


Brodd-Helgi and Geitir from Krossavík were great friends since childhood. Brodd-Helgi married Geitir's sister and their son Bjarni Brodd-Helgason was fostered at Krossavík. But their involvement in the fate and property of Hrafn Austmann, who spent the winter at Krossavík and disappeared at the winter games at Haga, led to the cooling of their friendship. Brodd-Helgi divorced Halla, Geitir's sister, and married Þorgerður "silver" from Fljótsdalur. The disagreements of these former friends ended in full-blown enmity.


The Thing representatives of Geitir and Brodd-Helgi also disagreed and all worked toward the end of their friendship. Brodd-Helgi's unpopularity increased and was finally more than the farmers could bear. At the spring Thing in Sunnudalur, Geitir is said to have killed Brodd-Helgi. At the instigation of Þorgerður his step-mother, Bjarni killed his foster-father and mother's brother Geitir. But the saga was not over. Þorkell, Geitir's son, took his father's chieftainship and Bjarni Brodd-Helgason was chieftan at Hof. They had grown up together at Krossavík and were the sons of a brother and sister.


Bjarni tried to make peace with Þorkell but failed, and Þorkell failed three times to avenge his father's death. The final battle was on a field at Eyvindarstaðir. Bjarni was victorious, later made peace with Þorkell and invited him to live at Hof as long as he lived. Thirty years of vengeance was over.



GPS: 65.654654  - 15.013484

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