The Arctic Henge is a site consisting of many stone arches and statues, arranged as a monument to the Norse pagan beliefs. Essentially it’s a sundial, which will capture the midnight sun perfectly in the aligned gateways.
The Arctic Henge is located in the village of Raufarhöfn in Iceland. The project was initiated in 1996 by a local hoteliere, Erlingur Thoroddsen, who hoped the monument would attract travellers to the remote seaside town. Construction began in 2004 and when completed it will cover an area 52 metres (170 ft) in diameter, with six meter high gates that face the main directions.
The monument was built to preserve Iceland’s Nordic roots, as well as to honor some of the neo-pagan beliefs that have arisen in certain areas. The Arctic Henge is inspired by the mythical world of Eddic poem Völuspá (Prophecy of the Seeress), taking from it the concept of 72 dwarves who represent the seasons in the world of the poem, among other symbolic queues.
In the Arctic Henge, 72 small blocks, each inscribed with a specific dwarven name will eventually circle four larger stone monuments, which in turn will surround a central balanced column of massive basalt blocks. Each aspect of the deliberate layout corresponds to some aspect of ancient Norse belief.
The Arctic Henge is 52 meters in diameter, with 6 meter high gates that face the main directions. Between the gates is a high wall with a small opening at the top. Inside the circle stands 10 meter high column on four pillars. The central column will be tipped with a prism glass that refracts the sun’s light.
The opening between the pillar look towards the main directions, so example the midnight sun can be seen from the south gate through the middle column and the north gate. The play of light and shadow will follow the time of the day. The openings on the wall will let in the sunrays so when the building is completed a sundial can be set up.
The Henge is already a popular destination for visitors to Iceland. It is a unique photo op, with the midnight sun and the Arctic Circle close by. The area surrounding the village is picturesque and full of mystique.
At current, only the imposing central tri-column and one of the four larger gates have been constructed, along with a smattering of the smaller stones, but it is still a work in progress. When it is complete, the Arctic Henge could easily become the premiere site for Paganism in the entire world and millennia from now it might seem as mysterious as Stonehenge seems to us today.
The Arctic Henge is located in Raufarhöfn, a small seaside village on the Arctic circle and one of the Northernmost places in Iceland. The village ‘s main industry are fisheries. Around 200 people live in the village. The harbor is unique for its natural surroundings with a cape guiding the ships to shore.
It is one of the country’s furthest settlements from the capital Reykjavík, which sits in the south-east. The drive between the two takes almost eight hours, although this can be shortened by taking a domestic flight to Akureyri Domestic Airport.
The drive from Akureyri to the Arctic Henge takes just under three hours; drive the Ring Road eastward, before turning right on Route 85. Follow this road through Húsavík, and take the left fork when you see the signpost to Raufarhöfn. The Arctic Henge will be clearly visible as you approach the village.It’s a huge sundial similar to Stonehenge and its purpose is to harness the Midnight Sun at the Arctic Circle.