Book Chapter

Trolls, Water, Time, and Community: Resource Management in the Myvatn District of Northeast Iceland



Sigurdardottir R, Newton AJ, Hicks MT, Dugmore AJ, Hreinsson V, Ogilvie AEJ, Juliusson AD, Einarsson A, Hartman S, Simpson IA, Vesteinsson O & McGovern TH (2019) Trolls, Water, Time, and Community: Resource Management in the Myvatn District of Northeast Iceland. In: Lozny LR & McGovern TH (eds.) Global Perspectives on Long Term Community Resource Management. Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation, 11. Cham, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing Ag, pp. 77-101.

The Mývatn area in northeast Iceland has been occupied by farming communities since the arrival of Viking Age settlers in the late ninth century. Despite its inland location and relatively high elevation, this lake basin was affected by continuous human occupation through periods of harsh climate, volcanic eruptions, epidemics, and world system impacts. Mývatn’s residents have practised farming, fishing, egg-collecting, and hunting activities for over a millennium. They managed the landscape and its resources with the use of traditional knowledge, which included the story of the troll woman, Kráka, who lived in a cave in the mountain Bláfjall (“Blue Mountain”). The story of Kráka and the river Kráká that bears her name provides a striking metaphor for the landscape history including water resources and environmental changes the agricultural community sustained over time.

Iceland; Folklore; Mývatn; Sustainable management; Trolls; Viking age; Wetlands

FundersNational Geographic Society
Title of seriesStudies in Human Ecology and Adaptation
Number in series11
Publication date31/12/2019
Publication date online22/06/2019
PublisherSpringer International Publishing Ag
Place of publicationCham, Switzerland
ISSN of series1574-0501

People (1)


Professor Ian Simpson

Professor Ian Simpson

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences