In my last post, I showed a photo of Brooke Lynne in a lava field on the Snaefellsnes peninsula in Iceland last year. Well, I now have some time to add a bit more to the scant amount of information I gave last time.
That photo and those here (Aubrey in the top and bottom photos, Brooke in the middle) were made amidst the Berserkjahraun (“Berserkers’ lava field”) on Snaefellsnes. I had read about this place while doing my research and I just had to go there. In fact, the place is so amazing that I went there twice!
So, how did this place get such a berserk name? Well, according to one of the old Icelandic sagas, there were two brothers living in this area. One of them decided to buy a couple of berserkers – wild Viking fighting men – as slaves from Sweden. The pair came over, but they were too wild to handle, so he gave them to his more dominant brother. One of these berserkers then fell in love with their new owner’s daughter, which the new boss wasn’t too happy about. He asked someone for advice. As it happened, this fellow had his eye on the daughter, too, so he told the slave’s owner to give him an impossible task to accomplish before he could marry the girl.
What was the task? Clear a path through this moonscape of a lava field – surely something that no man could do. Well, guess what? The two berserkers actually did it! Naturally, the boss wasn’t about to live up to the agreement, so when the two strong men were in the sauna, he trapped them inside. When they finally came out in a weakened state, his henchmen killed them.
Is this story true or just a fable, you ask? As it turns out, there is a path that can apparently be seen going through the lava (though I don’t know if I saw it), and archaeologists have found a grave next to this path, dating to this period, with the remains of two strongly built men. So, perhaps there is something to it.
As for my visiting this place last year, I drove from the main road onto a rough, bumpy, unpaved road, which is nonetheless a numbered road in the Icelandic road system. First it goes through an open area, but after a short time it enters one of the most remarkable landscapes I saw in this land filled with remarkable landscapes. “Unearthly” really is a word that applies here, with lava to be seen in all kinds of shapes and forms, much of it covered by moss.
Unfortunately, this road is about wide enough for one vehicle to fit on, and there are no signs indicating that it’s one way. Luckily, all the vehicles I saw were heading in the same direction. However, due to the narrow width of the road, there is no shoulder on which to park a car to allow one to get out and explore. Luckily, I did find a couple of spots where I could pull off the road amidst the lava.
Another unfortunate factor was the weather. As I’ve written before, just about everyone I spoke with told me that last summer was the coldest one in memory in Iceland – or, as someone told me recently, there was no summer in Iceland last year. As a result of this, we couldn’t stray too far from where I had parked, as it was so cold that after one roll of 120 film (or ten shots), the girls had to just run back to the heated interior of the car as quickly as possible.
That left a lot of the lava field yet to be explored. On the other hand, should I go back – and I plan to – there will be plenty of new territory there to investigate and hopefully photograph.
About Dave Rudin
Dave Rudin is a fine art photographer based in Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in art nude and travel photography, using black & white film and making silver gelatin prints in a darkroom.