• Súsanna Svavarsdóttir

Gunnuhver, the mud pool ghost, hot spring


Gunnuhver hot spring in Reykjanes Penninsula
Gunnuhver hot spring in Reykjanes Penninsula

In Icelandic nature everything has a name; every mountain, every valley, every tussock, every rill. And behind each name is a story. The southern tip of the restless Reykjanes Peninsula is a spectacular place to visit. A highly active geothermal area of mud pools and steam vents boiling practically under your feet – if you dare to walk the wooden planks crisscrossing the area. Indeed, here is where you find the biggest mud pool in Iceland, Gunnuhver – or Gunna hot spring.


Gunnuhver at Reykjanes Peninsula
Gunnuhver at Reykjanes Peninsula map of Iceland


The hot spring derives its name from one troublesome ghost, Gunna.

Gunnuhver
Gunnuhver

Just before dying, the said Gunna had a brawl with the local sheriff, Wilhelm, whom she hated. When she died, their discord had not been solved. Still, Wilhelm attended her funeral. The next day he was found dead; his body bruised and blue, his bones broken. His remains were taken to the Útskálar church, where the priest, Gísli, had to fight Gunna the ghost throughout the night as she was determined to drag the sheriff to Hell.

Gunna, the ghost, did not get her way and went absolutely bonkers. Wilhelm‘s widow suddenly died an unexplainable death; people traveling the peninsula got lost, died, or went mad. Everyone knew Gunna was to blame. She refused to stay dead – and was quite visible.

Life on the Reykjanes peninsula became unbearable.

Gunnuhver geothermal area at Reykjanes Peninsula
Gunnuhver geothermal area at Reykjanes Peninsula

Until two farmers with some occult knowledge decided to get the priest at Vogósar, Erik, to bust the ghost. Knowing Eric would be reluctant, they decided to bribe him with quite a potent poteen – which he was known to like a tad too much.

After listening to their plight, the priest gave the farmers a rope with a knot on one end. He told them to give the unknotted end to Gunna; the knotted end would trundle and drag her to a place where she would get stuck forever.

The farmers did as they were told, and the last sighting they had of Gunna the ghost was when she tumbled into the hot spring. They declared her dead, the peninsula safe from her misdemeanors and gave the hot spring her name so everyone would know where Gunna met her end.




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