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I don’t remember if it was the yellow and red coloured Willys that caught my attention, but I pulled over in the car park of an isolated place called Núpsstaður (Núpsstaðir), along Route 1 on the southern coast of Iceland.
Núpsstaður in Fljótshverfi is the easternmost town of Skeiðarársandur and was very isolated in the past. The town stands in front of a high cliff, near the West Loomnips. The earth is under encroachment of landslides and rock falls, but nevertheless there are preserved buildings that were built more then one hundred years ago.
Núpsstaður is a lovely place that consists of an old farmhouse, built in the 18th and 19th centuries, a few turf buildings and a tiny turf chapel. The remarkable old buildings are believed to be typical for farms in Iceland in past centuries. The farm derives its name from Lómagnúpur, which is one of the highest cliffs in the country.
The most noteworthy of these buildings is the chapel, one of few remaining turf churches in the country. It is believed that the chapel was built around 1650, but abandoned in 1765. It has been rebuilt around 1960 and was renovated in 1972. In 1930, the chapel was declared a protected ancient monument. It is now in the care of the National Museum of Iceland.
The farm was run by two brothers, Eyjólfiur and Fillipus Hannesson, both being in their nineties. Their sister married a long time ago and moved to Reykjavik. The two brothers never got married and stayed all their live at Núpsstaður.
The farmhouse they live in was built in 1927. The old house was demolished soon after this house was built. Older buildings in Núpsstaður are still in use as barn or workshop.
I found the newspaper article Núpsstaður nú go þá, but unfortunately it is written in Icelandic. If only someone could send me a translation …
And then there is the Willys, a yellow and red coloured SUV, build in 1953. I believe it is the Willys M606, or at least the remains of an M606. Through the holes in the corroded metal, one can see the wooden frame and the polystyrene filling. It is not clear if this filling served as a thermal insulation or a soundproofing.
The beauty of the environment surrounding Núpsstaður is well known. The area reaches from the ocean and black sands, all the way to the Vatnajökull. Núpsstaður lies close to the Skaftafell National Park where volcanic eruptions, glaciers and lakes have shaped the environment.
Later during that same journey; I stumbled upon the book ‘Faces of the North’, by the Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson (RAX). I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a photo of Eyjólfur Hannesson, with his Willys in the background.
I consider Ragnar Axelsson one of the best photographers around, and since I found his first book, I bought and enjoyed every book he published ever since.
I don’t know if Eyjólfiur and Fillipus Hannesson are still alive today. The last time I was in Iceland, I saw Fillipus in the garden and his brand new Subaru in front of the house. But that was some years ago.