Want to learn how to build an Icelandic turf house?

There are a few turf churches left.

There are a few turf churches left. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Helgi Bjarnason

There is a seminar on how to build a traditional Icelandic turf house every summer in Skagafjörður, North Iceland. The seminar is organized by Fornverkaskólinn, a collaboration between Hólar University and Skagafjörður Heritage Museum.

Over the last few years participants of the seminar have been helping in restoring Tyrfingsstaðir, an old turf home that was deserted in 1969.

The point of this seminar is to maintain knowledge that was very important in Icelandic society for hundreds of years, to preserve this Icelandic heritage.

The old farm, Tyrfingsstaðir.

The old farm, Tyrfingsstaðir. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Helgi Bjarnason

Half of the population in turf homes in 1910

When looking at pictures from Iceland, small and cute looking turf houses are bound to come up. Due to lack of trees in Iceland, building out of turf was a popular building material and thick turf walls were useful to ward off the cold. These houses were very common in Iceland, but as they need a lot of maintenance, not many are still standing.

Turf homes may seem like something ancient but they are not that far off in time. In 1910 half of the Icelandic nation lived in turf homes. The number resides as the years go by and as Reykjavik got bigger (little room for turf houses there!). By and in 1960 there were 234 inhabited turf homes in Iceland, most of which were deserted in the next decade.

Turf houses need a lot of maintenance.

Turf houses need a lot of maintenance. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Helgi Bjarnason

Glaumbær in Skagafjörður is one of the larger preserved turf …

Glaumbær in Skagafjörður is one of the larger preserved turf houses. It is a part of Skagafjörður Heritage Museum. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Helgi Bjarnason

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