The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

During my search for the remaining turf houses in Iceland, I visited the beautiful Laxárdalur valley in North-Iceland. In that valley, Þverá turf houses are located. It is a large, exceptionally well made, traditional Icelandic turf house with outbuildings. Here the most comprehensive habitation remains in Iceland can be seen.

I love this beautiful turf house - it is my husband's old family manor, i.e. his ancestors lived here and his paternal grandmother was born in the turf house. One of my husband's relatives, Áskell Jónasson, lives next to the farm, in a house built in 1964. That relative was brought up on the turf farm and he took us on the grand tour of Þveráturf house. But Þverá turf houses are under repair and are closed to visitors.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Almost all of Iceland's remaining turf houses now belong to our National Museum Þjóðminjasafn Íslands and are a part of the National Museum's Historic Buildings Collection.

Þverá turf farm has belonged to the museum since 1968 and it was preserved in 1990.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

These beautiful turf houses at Þverá (9 in all) date back to the 19th century and were built in 1849-1851. People lived on the turf farm until 1964. Times have changed for sure.  Once upon a time, everybody in Iceland lived in turf houses, rich and poor alike.

Seeing that in this area there is a lot of lava then these turf houses are mainly built up of lava rock much like my old family turf houses at Grenjaðarstaður, which is very close to Þveráturf house. The roofs of the turf house are insulated with dwarf-birch and covered with turf.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

We were guided through this large turf house and Áskell told us about what it was like growing up here as a boy. Inside you will find an old hearth kitchen and a pantry, 2 living rooms, a sitting room and many other rooms, including the cowshed.

A creek was channelled through one of the rooms, giving the inhabitants access to water all year round - an interior well, very clever. This area was also used as a cold store.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Upstairs the bedrooms are located - called "baðstofa" in Icelandic.  In the baðstofa area, people would sleep, eat and work. There is a passageway taking you from room to room, mind your head as people were smaller in the olden days - and I managed to bang my head once again! And I am not very tall.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

In this old turf farm, the oldest cooperative in Iceland was founded "Kaupfélag Þingeyinga" in 1882.

The church at Þveráis an Annex church of the benefice at Grenjaðarstaður. The current stone church was built in 1878, but there were older churches on this spot, dating way back to the middle ages.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Last time we visited Þveráwe noticed when visiting the church, that a sheep was walking on the roof of the turf farm - happily eating the grass turf on the roof.  As soon as it noticed the farmer though, it got spooked and ran away - I guess it must have done this before and known that it is not allowed ;)

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Next to the turf farm is a cowshed and outhouses are just behind the farm.  Áskell has worked on restoring the turf farm and the turf outhouses himself with the help of experts in the field of restoring turf houses, Fornverk under the guidance of our National Museum.

One of the outhouses that are being rebuilt is a 140-150-year-old stable, built in 1860-1880. This old stable was rebuilt in 1936. It is a small stable, housing ca 1-2 horses and 1-2 cows. I don't have a photo of the old stable though as it is being rebuilt.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

There are other outhouses, the two connected outhouses for lambs called Lambhúsin. They were rebuilt in 1995-1997 and are so pretty in my opinion. Fornverk  has also built a car park with a stone wall. I just love visiting Þverá, there is something so magical about this place.

The surroundings in Laxárdalur valley are ever so beautiful. One of the best-known salmon fishing rivers in Iceland, Laxá, runs through the valley. Þverá turf house is on the edge of Aðaldalshraun lava fields, where the lava takes on all kinds of form. 

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

I have been visiting and writing about all of the remaining turf houses and turf churches in Iceland in other travel-blogs, f.ex: 

I recently wrote a travel-blog on all the turf houses in Iceland.

Jon J. Vidis and the Memorial in Laxárdalur

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

In the lovely Laxárdalur valley, just beneath the turf farm at Thvera (Þverá) a basalt column stands six feet high. It was erected in 2009, in the memory of Jon J. Vidis, born at Thvera in 1894. The monument is named Jonssteinn (a stone for Jon).

Jon J. Vidis was, by his family, referred to as the head of the Vidis family. Jon never married and had no descendants, but supported the family in many ways, and as a result thereof, is well respected by family members.

The memorial was erected by two more supporters; the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). Jon was a surveyor of towns, harbours and roads, all around Iceland, for decades, and an influential member of the IOOF. He was respected, loved and admired by all, as a hard-working, generous, sociable, intelligent and influential person.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Jon's very detailed maps of harbours, in the scale of 1:500, are still in use when other maps don't suffice. In the sixties, Jon surveyed roads in the Westfjords of Iceland, which proved to be a turning point in road construction in this country.

He was a forward-thinking man, and his roads were 8 meters wide at that time and were laid in beautiful curves through the land and over the heaths. Jon also designed houses, photographed and designed many view-dials, distributed all over the country. 

As a surveyor, you need two assistants. During his long period of employment, Jon needed many assistants, who were mainly students, much appreciating a well-paid summer job, travelling all around the country. Many of these were Jon's nephews and great-nephews. Being married into the family, I frequently hear these men talk about these adventurous times. My husband is named after Jon Vidis - his name is Jón Víðis Jakobsson

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Jon and three companions were the first ones to travel in a car across Sprengisandur, the centre of the Icelandic highlands. They drove in their open Ford T model of 1926, from the agricultural areas in the south to the north coast, in a few days, in 1933. This was, and still is, considered as an important and courageous exploration, in the early days of modern travelling.

You can see Jon's old photos from that exploration in the latter part of my travel-blog the extraordinary Aldeyjarfoss Waterfall in North-Iceland in beautiful Basalt Column Settings.

Jon J. Vidis died in 1975. The family name Vidis was taken from a little island in the river Laxa, where it runs by Thvera, close to the monument, with the name Vidir. Vidir is the Icelandic name for willow (Salix), a tree found in several different varieties in Iceland. Vidir may also refer to the island as being well-grown.

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

The famous salmon river Laxá has its origin in Lake Myvatn. It then runs down the Laxardalur valley, where it is full of trout, admired by many fishermen. After that, it falls down into Aðaldalur valley, where it is full of salmon, no less admired for its beautiful surroundings and plentiful catch.

(I got help from Már Viðar Másson in creating this tip, but Jon J. Vidis was his great uncle. Már has created a very good home-page Mar Vidar from where I got good information on this area).

The Majestic Þverá Turf House in North-Iceland

Þverá in Laxárdalur valley is located at 65° 43,912'N, 17° 14,751'W.

Þverá in Laxárdalur valley is kind of off the beaten path, but it is so worth the while taking the detour into this beautiful valley. Þverá turf house is closed to the public while it is under repair.

To visit this area you can either rent a car in Reykjavík or get a Summer 7 Day Self Drive Tour|North Iceland & Mývatn.  

Have a lovely visit to Laxárdalur :)

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