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  • Einar Páll Svavarsson

Stokkseyri charming small village on the South Shore


Stokkseyri village on the South Shore in Iceland
Stokkseyri village on the South Shore in Iceland

In some areas in Iceland, two almost identical villages developed, although the distance between them is just a few kilometers. Sometimes this is a puzzle as nothing can explain why. This is the case with the two towns of Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki on the south shore and can also be applied to two other villages in the Southern Region, Hella, and Hvolsvöllur. Even historically, nothing can point to a valid reason why the two villages aren't just one village.


Stokkseyri village on the South Shore on the map of Iceland
Stokkseyri village on the South Shore on the map of Iceland

The same question of unfavorable natural conditions for a harbor

School at Stokkseyri village in Iceland
School at Stokkseyri village in Iceland

Although people in the South Region took advantage of rich fishing grounds outside the shore throughout the centuries, bringing the catch to shore was always difficult because of the lack of natural conditions for a dock. Despite this fact, small fishing stations and fishing outfits developed on the south coast, and people came there to fish, even though conditions were harsh during the fishing season. A favorable landing spot was always the problem. But sometimes, good fishing grounds were enough for a small village to develop from a farm to a village, as was the case with Stokkseyri. This is despite the fact that the farm Stokkseyri is mentioned as far back as the book of Settlement. Often in those villages, another factor, trading, was also a contributing factor. Especially after the Danish-Icelandic monopoly was abolished, which gave the village a better economic and competitive position. This was the case with Stokkseyri, and both the village and trading developed at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. But like its neighbor Eyrarbakki when the bridge over the river Ölfusá was built and the transportation infrastructure started to develop on land, Stokkseyri lost its role.


An effort was made at Stokkseyri during the 20th century

Stokkseyri village
Stokkseyri village

In the forties and up until the eighties, efforts were made to develop conditions for fishing and fish processing. In that period, the Icelandic government dedicated a lot of funding to building harbors around the coastline. That was also the case in Stokkseyri, but here this never amounted to any noticeable development. In addition to many old houses, most homes were built during that period. After that, Stokkseyri more or less came to a standstill as most of the development occurred in other inland towns and villages that also offered service to the agricultural communities.


A small village turning towards tourism


Homes are mostly single family houses in Stokkseyri
Homes are mostly single family houses in Stokkseyri

Today the tiny village of Stokkseyri, with its population of approximately 400 people, is part of the municipal Árborg, which includes its neighbor Eyrarbakki and the inland town of Selfoss in addition to the surrounding rural communities. In the village, the municipality offers its residents most of the modern-day services. The village has a preschool as well as a primary and secondary school. It also has a small swimming pool and a camping site. People at Stokkseyri have their livelihood by seeking employment in neighboring towns or the capital area, and some have turned towards the growing tourism by offering service, leisure, and accommodation.


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