Heimskautsgerðið: The Arctic Henge

Date 28 September 2018

Heimskautsgerðið: The Arctic Henge

Heimskautsgerðið: The Arctic Henge

In the far north-east of Iceland, beyond Husavik and Asbyrgi, lies a wild region often overlooked by tourists.

The climate here is punishing, and the small town of Raufarhöfn with its 194 inhabitants is where you'll find the bulk of the Melrakkaslétta peninsula's population.

The entire Melrakkaslétta coastline offers a landscape similar to Raudinupur: sheer cliffs and volcanic black beaches alive with birdlife and strewn with driftwood carried from Siberia by a raging Arctic sea. The town of Raufarhöfn is known for being one of the closest to the Arctic Circle, located about 2 km below the latitudinal line itself.

The origins of the Arctic Henge

Arctic Henge origins

Haukur's original works at the origin of Artic Henge -

In the early 2000s, the owner of the Norðurljós hotel, Erlingur Thoroddsen reached out to his friend Haukur Halldorson, Icelandic artist and designer, with the goal of attracting more tourists to Raufarhöfn. Erlingur's initial idea was to use the lighthouse in Raufarhöfn as a solar clock, but Haukur, who had been involved in heathen art since a young age, proposed a different concept. He incorporated a part of a theme park he had been working on, called Edduheimar, into his idea, which eventually led to the creation of the Arctic Henge.

The Arctic Henge project involves a larger concept centered around the stones (referred to as dwarfs), the orientation of each gate, and other elements such as sales tents and products. The Arctic Henge is the result of almost sixty years of Haukur's involvement with heathen concepts.

In 2004 began the construction of a huge structure in Raufarhöfn known locally as Heimskautsgerðið, internationally as The Arctic Henge.

Much like Stone Henge in Great Britain, this construction is a complex sundial. This modern design aims to capture the sun rays, cast shadows in precise locations, and play with the light of the midnight sun with a direct line of sight to the horizon. While merely a work in progress, this new Henge is already a huge symbol of the region.

An impressive structure

Arctic Henge

The circular structure is built around 4 huge basalt columns, nearly 6 m tall, with at the center of the circle a 10m-tall archway supported by 4 pillars.

Once finalized, the stone walls, pillars, and arches will form a circle about 52 m in diameter with, at its center, a cut prism crystal that will divide sunlight into primary colors. There are plans to install a sundial and a number of other features...

Founders were largely inspired by the Völuspá, the best known of the Poetic Edda: “Prophecy of the Seeress”. In fact, this stone henge will feature a “dwarf path” of 72 stones naming each of these mythical dwarves to celebrate an ancient and esoteric calendar.

Arctic Henge is perched on a hill overlooking the village of Raufarhöfn, which makes for some beautiful shots, especially in summer with the midnight sun. You can already admire the silver light of the midnight sun by looking through the south gate through the central arch and north gate. Already this structure plays incredible tricks of shadow and light, and we can't wait to see what it looks like when finished.

How to get there?

The small village of Raufarhöfn is completely isolated in the north east of Iceland, 150 km from Husavik (approximately 2 hours). To get there, take the 85 north towards Kopasker, then the 870 to the village.

The Arctic Henge structure overlooks the village and you can't miss it!

Photo credit: Thomas Schnitzler@Fotolia