From Iceland — Saga Stories #10: What Happened On Drangey Island?

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Join Dr Matthew Roby for an extra special episode of Saga Stories about the famous Grettis saga sterka, known in English as “The Saga of Grettir the Strong.” Grettir is an extremely complicated hero: sometimes kind and honourable, sometimes lazy and rude, sometimes wicked and downright psychopathic. When he’s feeling benevolent, he fights trolls and berserkers to defend the weak, but he’s also the guy who murders somebody over a packed lunch. In this episode, we follow in the footsteps of this larger-than-life hero to tell some of the most fascinating tales from his saga.

First, we take you to the farmstead of Bjarg near the modern-day village of Laugarbakki, where Grettir was born and grew up (65°15’59.4″N 20°48’35.4″W). Here we tell the story of Grettir’s troublesome childhood, in which he expresses his strength and prideful nature by torturing his father Ásmundr’s farm animals, not to mention Ásmundr himself.

Second, we take you to the verdant valley of Forsæludalur, the location of the medieval farmstead of Þórhallstaðir (65°18’36.0″N 20°07’58.2″W). This is the setting of the most famous haunting in all of saga literature: the relentless attacks of the revenant Glámr. We tell you the story of how Glámr became an undead zombie, how he is ultimately vanquished by the mighty Grettir, and how this victory haunts Grettir for the rest of his life…

Finally, we take you to the breathtaking island of Drangey, whose sheer cliffs rise 180m out of the icy waters of Skagafjörður (65°56’39.9″N 19°41’23.3″W). Nowadays, the island is famous for its thriving puffin colony, but it’s also where Grettir spends his last three years as an outlaw. We tell the story of how he ended up on the island, what he did while he lived there, and how he is ultimately brought down by his powerful enemies and even more powerful witchcraft.

Has this video left you with a hankering for Viking snacks and supplies? Check out out Grapevine’s Viking Box in our online store. It includes a book of quotes from the sagas so you too can be full of ancient Nordic wisdom. Shop here now:

With special thanks to our sponsors:

Car provided by Go Car Rental
Boat tour to Drangey Tours

Accommodation provided by Arctic Hotels

To watch, hear, and read more about the sagas, you can find Dr Matthew Roby at:

If you are struggling to understand the Icelandic names of people or places in this video, don’t forget to turn on closed captioning.

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