You've heard of Stonehenge but have you heard of Arctic Henge in Iceland? Arctic Henge is not nearly as old as Stonehenge as it is currently under construction (sic). It is to be a pagan monument that will harken back to the pagan past of Iceland and the brooding moodiness of the country.
Iceland is a land of unceasing natural beauty that has many unique attractions. Only in Iceland can tourists visit inside a volcano where the magma chamber has emptied out but the chamber has not collapsed in. After that one can hike across Iceland's volcanic deserts and see the brooding landscapes of this other-worldly Arctic country.
What Arctic Henge Is And Where It Is
Arctic Henge is a massive stone circle on the hill just north of the largely abandoned fishing village of Raufarhöfn in the remote far northwest corner of the country. Both the Arctic Henge and Raufarhöfn overlook the Arctic Ocean.
The structure is to be 50 meters in diameter with four giant gates (representing the seasons) up to 7 meters in height.
Name: Called Heimskautsgerðið In Icelandic
Status: A Long Term Project Still Under Construction
When complete, the aim of Arctic Henge is to have a finely tuned sundial to celebrate the solstices. The Arctic Henge is to be like a huge sundial that aims to capture the sun rays.
When it is complete there will also be the Hall of Rays and the Altar of Fire and Water.
- Hall of Rays: A Place For Spiritual Renewal
- Altar of Fire and Water: Where Rituals, Ceremonies, And Even Weddings Will Be Held
The Pagan History Of Iceland And The Henge's Pagan Purpose
The Viking ancestors of Iceland were originally pagan, but they converted to Christianity about 1000 AD. The Arctic Henge will enable the Icelandics to rediscover their pagan roots. It is thought that when it is eventually finished, Arctic Henge could become the premier site of Paganism all around the world.
The origin of the project goes back to 1996 and was inspired by the Eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress). In the poem, 72 dwarves represent the seasons in the world. The Arctic Henge is to have 72 small blocks, each inscribed with a specific dwarven name will eventually circle four larger stone monuments, which in turn will surround a central balanced column of massive basalt blocks.
The Arctic Henge will view the midnight Arctic sun and according to Lonely Planet, it will "explain the strong local beliefs in the mythology of the Edda poem Völuspá (Wise Woman’s Prophecy)."
- Edda: The ‘Bible’ of Norse Mythology
Inside the circle stands 10-meter high columns on four pillars. When these columns are completed, they will be topped with cut prism-glass to split the sunlight into the primary colors.
The purpose of the Arctic Henge is to discover and learn about the mythical made-up Icelandic world of mythology and folklore - including dwarfs. All dwarfs have a role and have their own personalities.
And according to Visit North Iceland, with the Arctic Henge "...dwarfs can be connected to birthdays and people can connect to their personal dwarf." Inside the circle are 68 dwarfs standing around in a circular dwarf trail.
The Remote Village of Raufarhöfn
At one point Raufarhöfn was home to the largest export harbor in Iceland. Its economy was built on herring-fishing and exports but during the 1900s the herring stocks disappeared and devasted the village economy.
- Population: Raufarhöfn Village Has 188 Inhabitants
- Raufarhöfn: Collapsed After The End Of The Herring Industry
- Northernmost: It Is the Northernmost Community In Mainland Iceland
As one visits this little village now one will see old factory buildings and abandoned houses. After visiting Arctic Henge, the village's many old buildings and factories that are worth exploring.
Raufarhöfn itself is situated on the Melrakkaslétta Peninsula that juts out and reaches the northernmost latitudes on the Icelandic mainland.
Getting To Arctic Henge
The Arctic Henge is very remote, if one is coming from Húsavík it's around a 1.5-hour drive and around 130 kilometers away. Once one arrives in the village of Raufarhöfn, it's not possible to miss the stones as they loom impressively on the hill above the town.
One can drive up the hill or just walk up if one would rather.
Raufarhöfn is one of the farthest settlements from the capital Reykjavík and it takes around 8 hours to drive there. Another option is to fly across the island with a domestic flight to the small Akureyri Domestic Airport. From Akureyri, it takes a little under 3 hours to reach Arctic Henge.
- From Reykjavík: 8 Hours Drive
- From Húsavík: 1.5 Hours Drive
- From Akureyri: 3 Hours Drive