Surtshellir cave

Surtshellir cave is a lava cave located in western Iceland, It is known for its mythological association with the fire giant Surtr, who plays a significant role in Ragnarök.

surtshellir cave

Surtshellir cave is a lava cave located in western Iceland, near the larger Hallmundarhraun lava field. It is known for its association with Norse mythology and is named after the fire giant Surtr, who plays a significant role in the eschatological events of Ragnarök.

In Norse mythology, Surtr is a powerful fire giant who wields a flaming sword and guards the land of Muspelheim, a realm of fire and heat. During Ragnarök, the prophesied end of the world, Surtr is foretold to play a pivotal role. He is said to lead his forces in a final battle against the gods, during which he will set the world ablaze, leading to its destruction and subsequent rebirth.

Surtshellir is mentioned in the Landnámabók, wherein Þorvaldur hollow-throat travels to it to recite a drápa to the Jötunn who lived inside. It’s possible that it was Surtr who was worshipped here, in an attempt to calm Iceland’s volcanoes.

The Eldgjá volcano erupted in 939AD, the effects of which were felt across Eurasia. A structure resembling a stone ship, a stone wall, glass beads, and several bones of domestic animals were found inside, indicating it was used as a ritual site.

While the exact details of the connection between Surtshellir cave and Norse mythology might vary, it is believed that the cave’s name and association with fire giants are inspired by these myths. The cave itself is formed from ancient lava flows and is one of the longest and most well-known lava tubes in Iceland.

  • References

    image: “Surtshellir, 10.07.2016.” by Dāvis Kļaviņš is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse.

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