Battle of Örlygsstaðir

The Battle of Örlygsstaðir was a historic battle fought by the Sturlungar against the Ásbirningar and the Haukdælir clans in northern Iceland. The battle was part of the civil war that was taking place in Iceland at the time between various powerful clans during the time known as the Age of the Sturlungs.[1]

Battle of Örlygsstaðir
Part of Age of the Sturlungs
Date21 August 1238 (trad.)
Location65°30′04″N 19°16′55″W / 65.501°N 19.282°W / 65.501; -19.282Coordinates: 65°30′04″N 19°16′55″W / 65.501°N 19.282°W / 65.501; -19.282
Result Ásbirningar/Haukdælir victory
Sturlungar Ásbirningar
Commanders and leaders
Sighvatur Sturluson 
Sturla Sighvatsson 
Kolbeinn Arnórsson
Gissur Þorvaldsson
~1000 ~1700
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

The Battle of Örlygsstaðir was fought on 21 August 1238 between Sighvatur Sturluson (brother of Snorri Sturluson) and his son Sturla Sighvatsson on the one hand, and Kolbeinn ungi and Gissur Þorvaldsson (later Earl Gissur) on the other. Sighvatur had nearly 500 men but there is no evidence available of the size of Sturla's following.[2] Nonetheless, historians estimate that the Sturlungar had a total of 1000 men.[3] Gissur and Kolbeinn had almost 1700 men in total.[2] The areas controlled by the Sturlungar were more populous but the settlements were more scattered which made it difficult for the Sturlungar to assemble fighting men.[3]

The Ásbirningar and Haukdælir clans emerged victorious after a short battle.[2] Over 50 men were killed on that day,[4] including Sighvatur and Sturla. According to the Saga of the Icelanders, Gissur only lost seven men whereas Kolbeinn lost none.[2]

Five others, including Þórir Jökull Steinfinnsson, were executed by beheading following the battle. The names of those who perished on that day are recorded in the Íslendinga saga which is included as a part of the Sturlunga saga.[4]

In 1988 a memorial was raised on the site of the battle, which describes the battle.


  1. ^ "The Battle at Örlygsstaðir - Sturla Sighvatsson and Gissur Þorvaldsson". The Saga Museum. Retrieved October 31, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). The History of Iceland. pp. 80–81.
  3. ^ a b Sigurðsson, Jón Viðar (1999). Chieftains and Power in the Icelandic Commonwealth. p. 81.
  4. ^ a b "Örlygsstaðir (Historical Places in Northwest Iceland)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-02-26.

Other sourcesEdit

  • Jón Jóhannesson, Magnús Finnbogason and Kristján Eldjárn (eds.) Sturlunga Saga, Vol 1 & 2, (Sturlunguútgáfan, Reykjavík: 1946)
  • Árni Daníel Júlíusson, Jón Ólafur Ísberg, Helgi Skúli Kjartansson Íslenskur sögu atlas: Volume 1, Frá öndverðu til 18. aldar (Almenna bókafélagið, Reykjavík: 1989)