AI trip Page 4
     Hestur Experimental Station was notable in that many of the finest rams in Iceland are
raised there.  At Hestur, they are breeding specifically for the greatest muscling possible
with this breed, with the least amount of fat, and experimenting with feeds, forage, and
housing/flooring.
      Haafelli farm has the last remaining polled Icelandic goats in existence.  Joanna the
goatherd
combed the island, buying up every last one of the polled goats in existence, which are
very
close to extinction.  She also has about 20-30
horned Icelandic goats, a few Icelandic
sheep, and Icelandic chickens.  However, before we visited any of the farms, Mundi took
us to a place very sacred to the Icelanders...Thingvellir.  A valley in which the Northern
Atlantic tectonic plates are being formed.  The western side of Iceland is getting closer to
North America, and the Eastern side, towards Russia at the rate of about one inch per
year.  
      As you shall see, Thingvellir's beauty is breathtaking!  100 mostly dormant volcanoes
are to be found in the valley which  was recently formed by violent primeval forces.  This
vast lava plain is filled with numerous deep fissures, and
the land is constantly sinking due to the landmasses splitting apart, forming a huge rift
valley.
      The only surface river running through the valley runs into lake Thingvallavatn after
tumbling in a beautiful waterfall into a canyon.  Thingvellir is an important Icelandic
historical site; people were sent out to search for a fitting place to hold the Icelandic
parliament meetings in the early 900's, and Thingvellir was chosen, in part because of the
natural ampitheater that was formed by a high volcanic cliff wall.  
      The president of the Parliament would stand on a nearby lava projection with his back
to the people, and would speak to the lava wall in front of him, which would bounce his
voice backwards to the people, who could hear him better because of the magnification of
his voice by the accoustic properties of the lava wall.  Upon discovering this unique
location, parliament was founded there in 930 and met there until 1845.
Thingvellir Sunrise, 9:30 AM
The lava wall that the Parliament
speaker bounced his voice off of.
Panaramic veiw of where the Parliament speaker would stand.
Thingvellir was a seat of power and authority, and also a place of judgment.  Consider how we think of
Hell...a place of great heat, burning and misery.  Surely in the medieval mind a place of 100 volcanoes would
also carry that connotation, but beyond that, Thingvellir was indeed a place of judgment, where those who
committed sins or crimes against other individuals or society would have their sentences pronounced by the
Court, then carried out with terrible swiftness.  
      At the end of the path you see in the panoramic view is the drowning pool, where women were dunked to
prove their innocence or guilt.  If they floated, they were considered innocent.  If they sank and drowned,
they were pronounced guilty.                             
      Unfortunately, back in that day, when it was difficult to get enough to eat and nearly everyone was thin
and would have had a low Body Mass Index, everyone but someone who was well fed would have sunk,
innocent or not!  
     Men were not put in the drowning pool, but were beheaded there instead.  In the 1500's Lutheranism
was taking dominance over Catholicism, and the last person beheaded at the drowning pool was the Catholic
bishop and his two sons while his mistress and his two daughters watched!   We can be thankful that we live
in the present day instead of back then!