Page images

coming to the past of Almanrtegiaa, which 1 had heard much of, as One of the greatest Curiosities in Iceland. We already found the ground broken into a number of great Openings, of various length and width; some so deep, that the darkness prevented our seeing the bottom, which in others was concealed by ice and snow. On a sudden we came to the brink of a frightful precipice, down which we looked into Almannegiaa, a monstrous chasm, extending almost as far as We could see, in a direct line, nearly east and west: through this our road lay. A Smaller opening branches off in a south-east direction, and, a great number of large pieces of rock having fallen into it, the natives, without any assistance from art, make it serve as an entrance to the other. Here, however, we were obliged to have all the luggage, even the saddles, taken off our steeds, and carried on the shoulders of our people. The horses were then driven down between the great stones which composed the descent. A more rugged pass * can hardly be con

* "Ce chemin est anssi dangereux que difficile; il y a une infinite* de degrfe taillis dans le roc, par ou lee

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

ceived. As we descended by this rude but natural staircase, the sides, which were perpendicular, became proportionably higher, till, winding round some huge fallen pieces * of rock, we entered the great chasm. A grassy bottom of considerable width, and extending as far as we could see, afforded a sufficient, though not a very luxuriant, pasture for our horses; and this determined me to have our tents fixed here, that we might remain all night in this remarkable spot, some idea of the ichnography of which I have endeavored to convey by means of the annexed engraving, which, however, represents it so imperfectly that I omitted it in the first edition of this Tour, and am fearful my readers may think I might as well have done so in the present. On the left of the entrance to my tent, rose a perpendicular

homines grimpent, et menent lcurs chevaux, qui nontent ces degres, en faisant des sauts qui ne les avancent pas toujours."—Povelsen and Olafsen, § 863.—I presume, by the word tallies, Messrs. Povelsen and Olafsen do not mean to imply cut by art; for I certainly could not perceive that any artificial means had been employed, nor could they have been so to advantage, without more powerful engines than the Icelanders are possessed of.

wall, above an hundred feet in height, black and craggy, with here and there a little vegetation, and a stunted birch, which took root among the ledges of the rock: it was on the lofty summit of this that our priest told us criminals used to be executed *: on the opposite side, and at about the distance of twenty yards, rose another wall, equally perpendicular, and more craggy, but not half the height of the former, yet, probably, m consequence of its being less exposed to the rays of the sun, covered with a more abundant vegetation, especially of moss (Trichostomum canescens) and Saxifrages: about a hundred yards from us in front, a little bend, in the direction of the chasm, appeared to shut us in by a lofty precipice: behind us was the pass or entrance to the chasm, which I have just described, and by the side of it a continuation to the southward of the high walls of the chasm; but the passage was almost choaked up by a

* On looking into the French edition of Povelsen and Olafsen's Travels, I find the above place mentioned as '* la roche esearpee d'ou Ton pr£cipitait jadis, dans le bucher, les victimes condamnees a fetre brftlt'es pour crime de sorcelerie." Tom. v. p. 363. .

« PreviousContinue »