any meat. Vegetable fat was all they ever got, and that

Nature Difficult to Move Networkmap2023-11-30 19:40:14 3413 1

The cavern of Surthellir lies on a slightly elevated extended plain, where it would certainly not be sought for, as we are accustomed to see natural phenomena of this description only in the bowels of rocks. It is, therefore, with no little surprise that the traveller sees suddenly opening before him a large round basin about fifteen fathoms in diameter, and four in depth. It was with a feeling of awe that I looked downwards on the countless blocks of rock piled one upon the other, extending on one side to the edge of the hollow, across which the road led to the dark ravines farther on.

any meat. Vegetable fat was all they ever got, and that

We were compered to scramble forward on our hands and knees, until we reached a long broad passage, which led us at first imperceptibly downwards, and then ran underneath the plain, which formed a rocky cavern above our heads. I estimated the different heights of this roof at not less than from eighteen to sixty feet; but it seldom reached a greater elevation than the latter. Both roof and walls are in some places very pointed and rough: a circumstance to be ascribed to the stalactites which adhere to them, without, however, forming figures or long sharp points.

any meat. Vegetable fat was all they ever got, and that

From this principal path several smaller ones lead far into the interior of this stony region; but they do not communicate with each other, and one is compelled to return from each side-path into the main road. Some of these by-paths are short, narrow, and low; others, on the contrary, are long, broad, and lofty.

any meat. Vegetable fat was all they ever got, and that

In one of the most retired of these by-paths I was shewn a great number of bones, which, I was told, were those of slaughtered sheep and other animals. I could gather, from the account given by the priest of the legend concerning them, that, in days of yore, this cave was the resort of a mighty band of robbers. This must have been a long, long time ago, as this is related as a legend or a fable.

For my part, I could not tell what robbers had to do in Iceland. Pirates had often come to the island; but for these gentry this cavern was too far from the sea. I cannot even imagine beasts of prey to have been there; for the whole country round about is desert and uninhabited, so that they could have found nothing to prey upon. In fact, I turned over in my mind every probability, and can only say that it appeared to me a most remarkable circumstance to find in this desert place, so far from any living thing, a number of bones, which, moreover, looked as fresh as if the poor animals to whom they once belonged had been eaten but a short time ago. Unfortunately I could obtain no satisfactory information on this point.

It is difficult to imagine any thing more laborious than to wander about in this cavern. As the road had shewed itself at the entrance of the cavern, so it continued throughout its whole extent. The path consisted entirely of loose fragments of lava heaped one upon the other, over which we had to clamber with great labour. None of us could afford to help the others; each one was fully occupied with himself. There was not a single spot to be seen on which we could have stood without holding fast at the same time with our hands. We were sometimes obliged to seat ourselves on a stone, and so to slide down; at others, to take hands and pull one another to the top of high blocks of stone.

We came to several immense basins, or craters, which opened above our heads, but were inaccessible, the sides being too steep for us to climb. The light which entered through these openings was scarcely enough to illumine the principal path, much less the numerous by-paths.

At Kalmannstunga I had endeavoured to procure torches, but was obliged to consider myself fortunate in getting a few tapers. It is necessary to provide oneself with torches at Reikjavik.



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