• Om_Jordbranden_paa_Island_i_Bls_91

An Account of the Eruption in Iceland in 1783

Sæmundur Magnússon Hólm 1784

In the beginning of June of 1783 great volcanic activity began in the highlands north of Síða. The event would later be named after a mountain in the area called Laki. The volcanic eruption is usually called Lakagígar (The Craters of Laki) or Skaftáreldar (The Fires of Skaftá) and would last until February 1784. The fall ships would carry news of the eruption to Denmark although some of these accounts may unfortunately have been quite inaccurate. One of the Icelanders studying in Denmark at the time, Sæmundur Magnússon Hólm, wrote a book about the events using these tales as his primary source. The book was printed in Danish in Copenhagen in 1784 and a German edition was printed a little later. Both editions came with two maps that Sæmundur claimed were made from maps he had previously made in Iceland. Sæmundur's maps are quite imperfect and not a good source for the development of the eruption and no wonder, since they were based on what he heard through the grapevine at the Copenhagen docks in 1783. They do however give a good account of the grounds now lost under the lava fields of the Laki craters.

The maps are labelled with letters A and B. The A-map covers the area from Kúðafljót east to Núpsvötn and Lómagnúpur. It is meant to show what this area looked like before it fell victim to the lava. The B-map is bigger than the A-map and covers the area from Múlakvísl to and east of Öræfajökull. It is meant to depict how large the area of the region was that was lost to the lava. The Laki craters are not included in the map and the lava field reaches all the way to the northern edge of the map.


550 Sæm

National and University Library of Iceland