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Where can I find more information about a phenomenon called “The Singing Cave”?

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Where can I find more information about a phenomenon called “The Singing Cave”?

Q: I would like more information about a location or phenomenon called “The Singing Cave.” I have purchased guides and have seen some photos from tourists, but would like as much information as I can get. The last book I purchased said there were numerous singing caves. Can you guide me in my search for information?

NJ Krause

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A: According to Jónína Hafsteinsdóttir at the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, there are at least six “Singing Caves” in Iceland, which are called Sönghellir in Icelandic.

One is located in Thórsmörk nature reserve in the southern highlands, more specifically in Húsadalur valley by mount Assa. It is only a small cave and is called Sönghellir because of the echo inside. The Icelandic Tourist Association offers tours to Thórsmörk and if you would like more information about the Singing Cave there, you could contact the Association by emailing [email protected].

Another Singing Cave is located near Kirkjubaejarklaustur in south Iceland (where there used to be a convent) in the cliffs of Klaustursfjall mountain, west of Systrafoss waterfall. It is called Sönghellir because the nuns who lived there used to sing inside the cave to welcome the monks who lived in the nearby monastery in Thykkvibaer. To learn more about that Singing Cave, contact the local authority in Kirkjubaejarklaustur by emailing [email protected].

Sönghellir near Kirkjubaejarklaustur. From klaustur.is.

Probably the most famous Singing Cave is Sönghellir on Snaefellsnes peninsula, west Iceland, located on the northern side of mount Stapafell which overlooks the small fishing village Arnarstapi. It is famous for its echo and there are ancient inscriptions on its walls.

Sönghellir on Snaefellsnes is believed to have provided shelter for the settler Bárdur Snaefellsás and his family while their farm was being built, who relocated from Norway to Iceland at the end of the 9th century. Snaefellsás was apparently half troll, half human and also a magician. He named both Snaefellsnes and Snaefellsjökull glacier and is now the glacier’s protective spirit. For more information on Sönghellir on Snaefellsnes, contact the West Iceland Tourist Information by emailing [email protected].

The other three Singing Caves are Hítardalur valley in Hraunhreppur parish in Mýrarsýsla county, west Iceland, Reynishverfi region in Mýrdalur valley in Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla county, south Iceland, and Hörgsdalur valley, also in Vestur-Skaftafellssýsla county. They are called Sönghellir because of the echo inside.

For more information on specific locations or natural phenomena in Iceland, contact the Icelandic Institution of Place Names by emailing [email protected].