The farm and Museum - Exhibition
The buildings of the farm date from slightly different periods in the 18th- & 19th-centuries. This style of the turf construction was universal in rural areas of Iceland until about 1900, when it was gradually replaced mainly by reinforced concrete, which is typical in most contemporary Icelandic construction today. Extensive turf construction evolved in Iceland owing to the acute shortage of large trees.
Hence the buildings at Glaumbær are comprised of thin shells of wood separated from one another and insulated by thick walls of turf, and roofed with a thick layer of the same material. Icelandic grass grows very thickly, consequently the turf is a strong and enduring combination of roots and soil. A turf building, in districts of moderate rainfall, can last up to a century. The roof must be sloped at the correct angle; if it is too flat, water leaks through and if it is too steep, the turf cracks during spells of dry weather or drains too quickly so the grass does not grow, both resulting in a roof that leaks. The old Icelandic farm was a complex of small separate buildings. The most frequently used were united by a central passageway, while tool & storerooms could only be reached from the outside.
| ||The Glaumbær farm |
1. Entrance & Passageway
2. Guest room
4. Main pantry
5. Guest room
9. South door
10. Long pantry
12. Guest room
16. Fuel storeroom
Room No.1: Entrance & passageway
The passageway at Glaumbær is unusually long. It provides access to nine of the thirteen "houses". The two intermediate doors along the passage, in addition to the front door, kept the cold from penetrating to the living quarters.
Room No 2: Guest room
This room was built in the year 1841. The poet Jónas Hallgrímsson slept here in August of that year. He is one of the bestloved Icelandic poets and several lines from one of his famous love poems are embroidered on the bedcurtains in this room.
Room No 3: Kitchen
This is the oldest building at Glaumbær, probably dating to the mid 18th-century. It was in continual use until about 1900. In it meals were prepared for more than 20 people, it was also used for smoking meat. "Hangikjöt" (smoked lamb) hung from the ceiling. The kitchens often lasted a long time, since the encrustation of the soot on the woodwork together with the draft and dryness, acted as a preservative.
Room No 4: Main pantry
Here food was assembled and dished up into portions by the farmer's wife. Poor trading conditions with other countries resulted in extensive home manufacture of wooden eating utensils: Note the milk pails, the mill, the butter dishes, the churn and the "skyr"-barrel along the walls.
Room No 5: Guest room
This room was used for guests and as a living room. Every winter a few boys stayed here to study. The minister was the teacher and this was the classroom. One of the display cases in this room contains a selection of Icelandic wool, as well as some thread dyed with plant dyes made from native mosses. Note the clothes, the ornaments and the small things for daily use in the other cases.
Rooms 6 - 8: "Baðstofa" (ð = th, as in the)
The baðstofa in an Icelandic farmstead was, in the a very real sense, the living room. Here the farmer, his family and the hired hands ate, worked and slept. The baðstofa at Glaumbær, built around 1876, contains 11 beds. Since two people often slept in one bed, these rooms could accommodate 22 people if necessary. Each man worked and ate sitting on his own bed. On the shelf above it, he kept his private"askur" - a cylindrical wooden dish or a bowl with a lid, often intricately carved. His food was brought in this from the pantry. The women's side was along the window, since their work of spinning and sewing required more light. The men combed wool, made ropes from horse hair, etc. During the long winter evenings, as people worked at their tasks by the light of small oil lamps, a member of the household might entertain the others by reading a saga or reciting poetry. Sometimes a semi-professional actor would tour the farms in the area. At bedtime, the folk, still partially clad, would snuggle under woollen blankets and warm feather duvets, which they had made themselves, and tuck these in on the aisleside by means of a "rúmfjöl". This lay against the wall during the day and at night kept the bedclothes tucked in tightly and in order. While putting the "rúmfjöl" into position at night, the prayer which is carved into it was silently uttered. "Watch over me with your eternal blessing. May God's angels sit in a circle above my covers." In such crowded and confined quarters, friction between people could only be avoided by practising mutual respect and tact and, in fact, the baðstofa, like any other environment, generated its own code of behaviour. There was a covenant of privacy among those in the farmhouse. What a man kept under his pillow was as safe from prying as if it had been in a safe. The baðstofa was not heated. This arrangement was possible because of the excellent insulation properties of the Icelandic turf, which retains heat and since everyone was also clothed in wool, the room did not have to be well heated. The baðstofa was partitioned into three sections. The North-facing section (6) contains two beds, with a high bunk for children. In the central room of the baðstofa, notice the various implements used for the home wool industry; spinning wheels, cards for combing, etc. Woollen clothing has been exported for centuries from Iceland and this home industry was the chief labour for women on the farms during the long winters. The farmer and his wife slept in the south-facing chamber. Notice the musical instrument - a genuine Icelandic "langspil", which is a part of the violin family.
Room No 9: South door
The door itself was to provide access to bring in water and take out ashes as well as providing an emergency exit. Notice the mills for grinding grain, and the collars of bone for tethering cows.
Room No 10: Long pantry
"Slátur" (e.g. innards, brawn, liver & black pudding etc.) were stored in whey in the barrels in this pantry. "Skyr" (curds) was also stored here. The temperature in the rooms of the turf house was ideal for food storage.
Room No 11: Dairy
Fresh milk was poured into the separating trays. After about 36 hours, the cream had separated and the skimmed milk was then poured off. The cream was churned into butter and "skyr" was made from some of the skimmed milk. When the separating trays were washed, they were scrubbed with the horsehair brush displayed in one of them.
Room No 12: Guest room
This building and the loft room above date to 1878. It replaced the room across the passage as the principal guest room. The pictures on the walls are of leading citizens of Skagafjörður of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Souvenir postcards and guidebooks are available in this room.
Rooms 13 & 14: Storerooms
Storerooms for tools used outdoors.
Room No 15: Smithy
All farms formerly had their own smithy, which was necessary for sharpening scythes ant to make horseshoes and other farm equipment and utensils.
Room 15: Fuel storeroom
The ordinary fuel was peat or dried sheep dung (odourless), a pile of which stands against the wall on the right. Its use is a good example of the use of all available materials. Sheep dung was beaten, and in later years, milled into powder, which supplied an excellent fertiliser for the hayfields.
Texti: Sigríður Sigurðardóttir
Drawings: E. Sacher, R. Sørensen