Helgafell and the Story of Gudrun Osvifursdottir (Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir)

Helgafell and the Story of Gudrun Osvifursdottir (Guðrún Ósvífursdóttir)

Helgafell is a prominent rocky hill, a few kilometers south of Stykkisholmur. 

At the foot of the hill stands a church, where one of the most enigmatic heroines of the Icelandic Sagas, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, is buried.

The story of Gudrun is told in Laxdale Saga, a medieval masterpiece with all the dramatic elements of a modern novel. 

Gudrun was intelligent, beautiful and highly regarded. After her first marriage ended in divorce, Gudrun married again but her second husband drowned at sea.

She was then courted by two foster-brothers, Bolli and Kjartan. Following her engagement, to Kjartan, the foster-brothers left for Norway leaving Gudrun at home. Bolli returned first with false rumors about an affair between Kjartan and the King’s sister.  Gudrun’s love turned to jealousy and rage and she married Bolli to spite Kjartan.

It all ended badly, as Gudrun might have known had she understood correctly a dream she had had of two beautiful birds fighting. The two foster-brothers became hostile to one another and Gudrun incited Bolli to ambush and murder Kjartan. In revenge, Bolli was killed by Kjartan’s kinsmen.

Guðrun married one more time and when on her deathbed her son asked her which husband she had loved the most, she answered ‘the one I treated the worst’. And still today, Icelander's debate whom she meant. 

Most of the events of the story take place in Dalir, the region of West Iceland centered on the town of Budardalur.