Iceland’s most famous outlaws were the eighteenth-century Eyvindur and his harsh-tempered wife, Halla. They are the only Icelandic outlaws to have managed twenty years on the run, thus earning themselves a pardon; many places around Iceland are named after Eyvindur, showing just how much he had to keep moving.

Originally from the West Fjords, Eyvindur and Halla set up at Hveravellir, robbing travellers and stealing sheep from nearby properties. Eventually chased on by a vengeful posse, they shifted south to the Þjórsá (west of Hekla) for a few years – the easiest time of his outlawry, so Eyvindur later said – then to remoter pastures on the Sprengisandur, which at that time hadn’t been crossed for many years. Caught after stealing a horse, Eyvindur and Halla were held at Mývatn’s church, from where Eyvindur managed to escape by asking to be untied so that he could pray. As luck would have it, a thick fog came down and he was able to hide nearby until people had given up looking for him, thinking him far away. He then stole another horse and rode it south to Herðubreiðarlindir, where he somehow survived an appalling winter in a “cave” he built into the lava here. Later on, he met Halla again and they drifted around the country, always just managing to evade capture but forced by hunger or pursuit to kill their infant children. Tradition has it that after being pardoned they returned to their farm, where they died in the 1780s.

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