We woke early to light snow at sea level in Akureyri's, with a long day ahead of us, and three mountain passes to traverse before reaching Reykjavik. We left Akureyri at 8:30 in light wet snow, and drove west until we arrived at a folk museum and turf farm, Glaumbaer, in the Skagafjorour region. This is an amazing structure built primarily of drift/found wood and sided and roofed with turf. This traditional building style replaced long houses because they are more efficient to heat and require minimal amounts of wood for building and heating. They are SMALL and LOW - however I did not have to duck as most of our group did to get through the doors. The farmhouse that we visited had been originally built in the 1700s & 1800s (additional sections as they were needed, not too unlike an old extended farmhouse you might see in Maine) and had been in continuous use until 1947. Glaumbaer, had been one of the more "well to do" farms throughout its use, and thus was larger, in both size and the number of people who resided there. Generally, the turf farm house was owned by a minister or a more wealthy farmer. The basic structure is comprised of the main unit - a small building with few support timbers and thick walls of cut turf, and a roof of thickly cut turf stacked so as to shed water. The main living/working/sleeping area was of beds along the sides. Additional individual buildings (for specific uses such as kitchen, smithy, dairy, storage etc.) would be built adjacent to the primary building and connectected by a passage walkway. Only the kitchen had a hearth. In the case of the turf farmhouse that we saw, the primary living quarters had 2 small additional rooms on each end, one for the minister and his wife, and the other for their children.
Turf farmhouses were predominately used until approximately 1950s. It is generally stated that Iceland went from the Middle Ages to the 20th century in the span of less than 2 decades.
From the modern city of Akureyri to Glaumbaer we too spanned great changes: from sea level to a mountain pass. Most of the travel, when above sea level we were traveling in wind driven snow in near-white out conditions.