There is something that draws us in when it comes to abandoned farms and houses, their tranquility, their eeriness or how nature seems to be taking them over.
We feel the desolation of a place and we wonder why the owners left, where they went and why no one's taking care of that house today. While many of us might speculate, a group called The Abandoned Farms Association, actually went and found out.
All around Iceland you can find numerous abandoned farms and houses in various states of disrepair. Many of them are well built and still in fairly good shape, but what they all have in common is a story to tell and that is why The Abandoned Farms Association started their research. The Association is a non-profit organization with the objective to research and register the magnitude and cultural importance of all abandoned farms and other deserted residences in the rural areas of Iceland. Other important objectives of doing the research are to contribute toward saving and preserving these properties and to inspire others to do the same.
The research started in 2011 after one year of preparation, and now there is an extensive and valuable base of knowledge available on the residence and life of Icelanders in the last centuries. The first research of abandoned farms was done in the south part of Iceland, covering 103 abandoned farms and houses and followed by the first publication, Volume 1. A year later the research took place in west and northeast Iceland, where 236 houses were cataloged, resulting in Volume 2 and 3. In 2013 the research covered the West Fjords and northwest Iceland, documenting 217 houses which resulted in Volume 4 and 5. The research ended in 2013 when the abandoned farms and houses in North and South Múlasýsla Counties, Árnessýsla County, Gullbringusýsla County, Kjósarsýsla County and in the Westman Islands were explored—some 189 buildings that make up Volume 6 and 7.
On the whole the researchers documented 748 abandoned buildings but their definition of abandoned house or farm was very narrow as they did not explore buildings that have been utilized or repurposed, such as houses that are now used as summer homes.
Abandoned buildings can have a great importance. In some cases they are in themselves cultural relics and an important source of regional and population history. Their age, type or architectural features can be unique or historically relevant as can be their placement in the cultural landscape of their region. Abandoned farms and former homes can also be quite beautiful in their loneliness, especially in the surrounding magnificent Icelandic nature, as the photos from The Abandoned Farms research prove.
Photos: Courtesy of the Abandoned Farms association