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(Mis)guided to Barbecue Party by GPS

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(Mis)guided to Barbecue Party by GPS

Þórsmörk

The road to the better known Þórsmörk. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

The trip of a young, American couple to Þórsmörk , the popular hiking area north of Eyjafjallajökull glacier, ended in an entirely different kind of Þórsmörk in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland, thanks to their GPS. The latter Þórsmörk turned out to be a meadow on Þór Þorsteinsson’s farm, Skálpastaðir II.

The young couple knocked on the door when Þór and his wife, Guðrún Björk, were in the middle of barbecuing a leg of lamb for their guests. Þór told Vísir that “of course” he invited them for dinner, and told them the story of how the meadow got its name.

Unlike the name of the famous Þórsmörk, which means the forest of Þór (Thor), the god of thunder, the field in Borgarfjörður refers to something else.

Þór’s story explains it all:

“As a young boy, I built two quality football goals from wood, which I placed in one of the meadows. In order not to have to retrieve the ball as far, I installed netting in the goals (the rest of a fishing net). Then we played football in the field until it had to be mowed. At that point I was told to remove the goals from the meadow, which I promptly did. Some of the netting, however, was left behind and, sure enough, it landed in the mowing machine. It took the rest of the day and into the next morning to get it out of the machine, and all mowing had to be put on hold. My dad was not particularly proud of his son that day and declined my help with removing the net from the mower.

Unlike other fields on the farm at the time, this one had no name … It wasn’t until [my dad] had recovered from my mistake and had started mowing again that the field finally got a name, Þórsmörk.”

This time, the meaning of the name was different from that of the original Þórsmörk, because the word mörk is also the plural of mark, meaning goal. Thus, the name could be interpreted to mean Þór’s goals. “The name,” adds Þór, “was probably intended to make sure I wouldn’t repeat the mistake I had made.”

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