The Anvil – Steðji (Staupasteinn)

Iceland_road_sign_E02.61.svgThe peculiar rock in the photos below is hidden in a small vale on the south side of Hvalfjörður, a short drive off the main road (turning right). It is marked as a place of interest (see the sign on the left) and the road-sign sign says “Steðji”, which means “Anvil” and is one of several names for it. Others include “Prestur” (“Priest”), “Karlinn í Skeiðhól” (the Old Man of Skeiðhóll) and “Staupasteinn” (literally “the rock on which goblets are placed”, although I think the “a” was probably inserted to make it easier to say the name rather than to indicate plurality, so Goblet Rock is probably a more correct translation). It used to be a stopping point by the highway, but must now be sought out specially. It has been a protected natural monument since 1974.

Unusually for a lone standing rock, it is not considered to be a petrified troll (although the Old Man… name seems to indicate that perhaps it was once seen as such), but rather the home of a friendly elf hermit named Staupa-Steinn. Incidentally, the American TV series Cheers was called Staupasteinn in Icelandic, a very suitable name for a bar, and in fact you can find at least one bar of that name in Iceland. It, however, postdates Cheers and is probably named after the TV series and not directly after the rock.

From this angle, it looks like a slightly misshapen goblet, a fist or perhaps a tree. What do you see?

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I wonder what other nationalities would call it? Seeing it from this angle I am pretty certain an American would call it the “Catcher’s Mitt”.

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Seen in a wider context:

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