Varmahlid (Varmahlíð) Village and Turf Church

Varmahlid (Varmahlíð) Village and Turf Church

Varmahlid is a small rural community and service center for travelers, with a fuel station, supermarket, swimming pool, craft shop, and Tourist Information Centre. 

Just off road 1, west of Varmahlid, don’t miss Vidimyri’s beautifully restored turf church built from driftwood. There has been a church on the site since the year 1000 but the present turf church dates from 1834, was refurbished in 1936 and repaired several times since then. 

The lychgate was added in 1936, but its bells are much older and were cast in 1630. There are many historic artifacts in the church and of particular note is the Danish altarpiece, a 1616 triptych, depicting the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. The pulpit dates back to the 17th century. 

The seating arrangement inside the church is interesting:  the immediate family members would be seated furthest forward, whilst the poor were confined to the rear of the church, near the door.  Men were seated on the south side of the aisle and women on the north side. 

Vidimyri was an important residence during the Age of the Sturlungs and influential chieftains Kolbeinn Tumason (1173–1208) and Kolbeinn Arnorsson (1208–1245), lived at Vidimyri. 

Squabbles among chieftains and their clans and clashes with the wealthy church brought near civil war to 13th century Iceland. Bickering among themselves, the chieftains also pandered to King Hakon of Norway. In 1262, Icelanders agreed to swear an oath of loyalty and pay a few taxes to the king. 

It seemed a small price to pay for peace but effectively brought to an end Iceland's Golden Age of independence.  Many of the key battles in the power struggle took place in this region of Iceland.