The area immediately surrounding Saga Centre is the actual historical setting of Njala itself. The key sites from the story are labelled with the Saga Centre logo. In many places are information signs detailing how the site is related to the events and characters in Njala. All of the specified sites are easily accessible to all visitors.
Saga Centre can be of assistance in hiring thoroughly experienced tour guides for large and small groups alike.
Keldur was home to Ingjaldur Hoskuldsson, who failed Flosi in the attack on Bergthorshvoll. Ingjaldur was brother to Hrodny, who was the mother of Njall’s son Hoskuldur. The farmstead at Keldur is the only large, preserved turf house in Southern Iceland. It is now owned and overseen by the National Museum of Iceland. The farmhouse consists of six timber-paneled gables facing the farmyard, one of which serves as the entryway to the lodge. This lodge is built in the ancient style and is the only one of its kind that has been preserved through the ages. Such buildings were common in earlier centuries. The structures standing at Keldur represent three distinct periods of construction: the oldest part of the farmhouse, which is made of turf and stone; the central part, somewhat younger, consisting of a wooden house clad with corrugated metal and facing the farmyard; and the youngest section, a metal-clad wooden building that dates from 1937 and is representative of the style that was common in the Icelandic countryside at that time.
The most powerful ecclesiastical chieftain of the 12th century, Jon Loftsson (1124-1197), had one of his manors at Keldur. He lived there during the last years of his life and is buried there. Jon Loftsson established a monastery at Keldur, but it was a short-lived endeavour. Snorri Sturluson was sent to Jon Loftsson for fostering and education when Jon lived at Oddi in Rangarvellir.
One of the most famous battles in the Saga of Brennu-Njall took place at the river Ranga, where the stone Gunnarssteinn is located. It is believed that Gunnar stood on the stone as he fought. On that occasion, Thorgeir Starkadarson and Thorgeir Otkelsson lay in ambush with a group of men, waiting for Gunnar and Kolskeggur as they came down from Landeyjar. Gunnar would kill Þorgeir Otkelsson in that battle. This proved a momentous event, as he had previously killed Otkell, Thorgeir’s father. Njall of Bergthorshvoll had told Gunnar that if he “killed any more men of the same family”, he would break the truce agreement, his actiond would result in his death. Mordur Valgardsson of Hof, who knew of the prophecy, had suggested that the two Thorgeirs launched their attack so this would come true.
The mountain called Thrihyrningur – The triple horn – looms over Fljotshlid and Landeyjar. Attempts at conciliation were unsuccessful at Althingi after the death of the chieftain Hoskuldur Hvitanesgodi, so that the only option left was to extract vengeance. Flosi Thordarson of Svinafell handled the case on behalf of the widow, Hildigunnur Starkadardottir, who was his niece, and he sent his men there when winter was less than eight weeks away. The arsonists met at Thrihyrningshalsar, where they remained in hiding until they launched their attack on Bergthorshvoll.
Gunnar Hamundarson lived at Hlidarendi, where he had grown up. At the home of Gunnar and his wife, Hallgerdur Hoskuldsdottir, were their two sons, Hogni and Grani. Njala contains the following description of the brothers: “They were two men distinctly different in temperament. Grani had a temper much like his mother’s, while Hogni was well-behaved and mannerly.” Also in the home was Rannveig Sighvatsdottir, Gunnar’s mother. There was no love lost between her and her daughter-in-law. Hlidarendi lies deep in Fljotshlid and stands on high ground, as was common with manor houses. This reduced the likelihood of the household’s being taken by surprise. From Hlidarendi one can look over the mud flats in the river Markarfljot and down to Landeyjar. There is a splendid view of Rauðaskridur (Stori Dimon) and a beautiful mountain panorama.
Rauðaskridur rises like an island up out of the mud flats in the river Markarfljot. Gunnar of Hlidarendi and Njall of Bergthorshvoll owned a forest there together. The Slave Killings began at Rauðaskridur when Hallgerdur sent Kolur, her slave, to kill Svartur, Njall and Bergthora’s slave. When this happened, Gunnar and Njall had already ridden off to the Althingi assembly. Hallgerdur sent a man to the assembly to tell Gunnar of the killing, and Gunnar paid Njall twelve aurar in silver as a blood price for Svartur. More deaths followed, but the bloodshed never cast a shadow on the friendship between Gunnar and Njall.
Markarfljot, a glacial river south of Fljotshlid, is about 100 km long and can become quite swollen at times. At Markarfljot, Njall’s sons waited in ambush for Thrainn Sigfusson as he came from a visit to Runolfur at Dalur. Thrainn had gotten Njall’s sons in trouble with Earl Hakon in Norway and refused to pay them any compensation when they arrived in Iceland. Now they would exact vengeance. In that battle, Skarphedinn killed Thrainn Sigfusson. Thereafter, Njall offered to foster Hoskuldur, Thrainn’s son by Thorgerdur Glumsdottir. Njall always treated Hoskuldur very well; he saw to it that Hoskuldur was granted a chieftaincy and arranged a good marriage for him.
Njall Thorgeirsson lived at Bergthorshvoll with his wife Bergthora Skarphedinsdóttir and their children. Njall was one of the wisest and prudent man in the whole country at that time, the great tribune, jurist, and counsellor, foresighted and respected man. Njall was Gunnar on Hlidarendi closest friend. In the second part of the story the many failures of Njal sons would prove to be the reason he lost respect from other people. After the murder of Hoskuldur, his widow Hildigunnur asked Flosi, Hoskuldur’s wife’s uncle, to take revenge against the killers, who sought the help of powerful chieftains. He is pressured by Hildigunnur to accept only blood vengeance. A hundred men descend on Njal’s home Bergthorshvoll and Flosi and his men set fire to the building and Njal, Bergthora, and their grandson Thordur, staid in the building and died. Eventually eleven people died, but these did not include Kari who escaped under cover of the smoke. Flosi knows that Kari will try exact vengeance for the burning that he committed. After the fire Kari made a pilgrimage to Rome in order to receive absolution from the pope himself.