Systrastapi

Kirkjubæjarklaustur, (“The church farm convent”) (pop. 119) for long one of the biggest farms of the county Skafta­fellssýsla. Now a village with the community centre Kirkjuhvoll, a Vatnajökull National Park information centre, a weather station, elementary school, sport centre and a swimming pool. Christian Irishmen are supposed to have lived there before the Norse settlement, and after Ketill the foolish settled there no heathen people were allowed to live at this spot. A convent was situated there from 1186 until the Reformation in the 15th century. Many place–names remind us of the convent, such as Systrastapi (“The sisters’ crag”), Systrafoss (“The sisters’ falls”), Systravatn (“The sisters’ lake”) and Sönghóll (“Hill of chanting”) to the south of the river Skaftá, where the monks of Þykkvibær on their way to visit the nuns of Kirkjubæjarklaustur would start their chanting as Kirkjubæjar­klaustur came into sight. West of Systrastapi is Eld­messu­tangi (“Fire sermon point”) where, in the eruption of 1783, the advancing lava miraculously stopped before it reached the church where Rev. Jón Steingrímsson was delivering his famous “eld­messa” (“Fire sermon”). It was common belief that it was due to his prayers that the lava–stream stopped. National Forest.