About the place

Rútshellir (Rútur’s Cave) is said to be the oldest extant man-made residence in Iceland. The name derives from a certain Rútur who is supposed to have lived there in olden times, and the cave was inhabited over the centuries. The cave is mentioned in the Register of Estates compiled in 1714 by Árni Magnússon and Páll Vídalín, and again in the Travel Book of Eggert Ólafsson and Bjarni Pálsson in 1756, and in 1818 it was recorded in a register of archaeological sites by the Rev. Ólafur Pálsson of Eyvindarhólar. In 1936 the cave was studied by German scientists sent by the Nazi authorities to examine sites of heathen temples in Iceland, inspired by the Nazis’ admiration for Old Norse culture. The cave is entered via a sheepshed which was built in front of it in the early 20th century. The cave is about 15 metres long and 2.5 metres in height. It is 5 metres across at its widest point. The main cave leads to a smaller annex. There are many traces of human habitation in the cave, such as signs of timber structures within the cave, relics of blacksmithery (a slack tub in the floor for quenching hot iron), etc. 


Rústshellir (Rútur’s Cave) is in Hrútafell, a branch of Mt. Drangshlíðarfjall.


The cave is easily accessible. Park at the old community centre building at Skarðshlíð, then walk west to the cave. Either climb over the fence, or go through the gate. Take care to close the gate after you, to keep the farm animals in.

Note: Do not park or stop the car on the main road! Find a safe place to park the car. Be careful when turning of the main road, slow down in time and give indicators.
Read more about Driving in Iceland.