On his death, Kveld-Úlfr's coffin is thrown overboard following his final instructions. The coffin is washed into the fjord now known as Borgarfjörður -- and the place where it is driven ashore, and where it is subsequently interred after being found, is known afterwards as Kveldúlfshöfði ('Kveldúlfr's headland'). The place where Skalla-Grímr's ship took land was named Knarrarnes ('Merchant-ship headland'), one of the larger islands of the hundreds of skerries that pepper the sea to the east of the Mýrar peninsula, described by W. G. Collingwood as 'a romantic fringe of ness and voe' (W. G. Collingwood, Pilgrimage, p. 56; photo of Collingwood below).
|Álptanes church from the shoreline|
I drove down to Álptanes -- a journey of c. 30 kms or so from Borgarnes which took a good 45 minutes in the Embulance, what with the road being so snow-choked -- and began to get a sense of the expanse and relative flatness of the Mýrar country. The tide was out and there were great stretches of black sand between the exposed skerries; oily ribbons of water incised sinuous channels through the dark sands. Climbing up onto the outcrop of rock to the east of the church and the current farm buildings it was possible to see for miles: east across the fj0rd over to the sharp flanks of Hafnarfjall, north-east over to Borgarnes, west and south-west over the skerries on which numerous ships have foundered (the most famous in recent times being the French schooner Pourquoi Pas?, wrecked in 1936 on its way back from a research-expedition headed by Jean-Baptiste Charcot in Greenland).
It was to Álptanes that the 3-year-old Egill rode from Borg, on his own, after his father Skalla-Grímr refused to let him come with him and others to a feast that Egill's maternal grandfather was holding at Álptanes one spring, saying that Egill didn't know how to behave in public when there was heavy drinking. Egill is given a warm welcome by his grandfather when he enters the farmhouse: men are merrily drunk and composing verses as entertainment and Egill offers one up himself (Egils saga ch. 31, pp. 81-82; my translation):
Kominn emk enn til arna
Yngvars, þess‘s beð lyngva,
hann vask fúss at finna,
fránþvengjar gefr drengjum;
mun eigi þú, þægir,
þrévetran mér betra,
linns, óðar smið finna.
Prose order: Kominn emk enn til arna Yngvars, þess’s gefr drengjum lyngva fránþvengjar beð; vask fúss at finna hann; þú mun eigi, þægir ljósundinna linns landa finna þrévetran óðar smið betra mér.
Translation: I have come to Yngvarr’s hearth, he who gives to heroes the bed of the flashing-thong of the heather [snake > gold]; I was eager to find him; you will not, thruster of the gleaming twisting land of the serpent [gold > generous man], find a three-year-old crafter of poetry better than me.