|Traðarholt with Ingólfsfjall behind the settlement, to the north|
The Norwegian Jarl Atli inn mjóvi 'the slender' Hundólfsson had three sons: Hallsteinn, who was the eldest and wisest of the brothers, Hersteinn, and Hólmsteinn. After the deaths of Atli, Hersteinn, and Hólmsteinn in battle, Hallsteinn flees Norway and heads for Iceland 'sem þá gerðu margir gildir menn, at þeir flýðu óðul sín fyrir ofríki Haralds konungs' (Flóamanna saga, in Harðar saga, ed. Þórhallur Vilmundarson and Bjarni Vilhjálmsson, Íslenzk fornrit 13 Reykjavík, 1991), ch. 4, p. 238; 'as did many great men, who left their inheritance because of the aggression of King Haraldr [inn hárfargri, king of Norway 872-930 CE].' On approaching Iceland, Hallsteinn flung the partition-beams from his Norwegian house overboard into the sea as an auspice, following the old custom: the posts drifted to land at the place that since has been called Stokkseyrr (on the south coast of Iceland, to the east of the enormous Ölfusá estuary), and the ship came into Hallsteinssund, to the east of Stokkseyrr, and broke up there ('Þeim sveif á land, þar sem síðan heitir Stokkseyrr, en skipit kom í Hallsteinssund fyrir austan Stokkseyri ok braut þar', Flóamanna saga ch. 4, p. 238).
Sleet, hail, and rain were driving down alternately from the grey sky when I arrived in the area. In the town of Eyrarbakki, a few kilometres west of Stokkseyri, I stood on the heavy stone walls built along the sea-front as a defence against the huge Atlantic rollers that come crashing in. I looked south out to sea, saw nothing because of fog. A short distance from the eastern fringe of Eyrarbakki is the site of the old Einarshöfn ('Einarr's harbour'), once one of the most important trading posts in Iceland, now windswept sandbanks and hollows some metres inland. The shore-line has changed greatly over centuries, shaped and reshaped by the elements; inland too, the lie of the marsh-dominated land has been altered physically as the result of 20th-century agricultural drainage programmes.
The events that took place over 1000 years ago in the Flói district around Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri are the subject of Flóamanna saga, 'The Saga of the People of Flói (flói, 'a marshy moor')'. The main protagonist of the saga is Þorgils Örrabeinsstjúpr Þórðarson, the great-grandson of the Hallsteinn whose seat-pillars are commemorated in the name Stokkseyri, 'beam-bank' or '-point'. At the age of five, Þorgils is thrown out of his home at Traðarholt, north-east of Stokkseyri, for killing his stepfather's horse, Illingr. Þorgils had previously wanted to join other local boys who were playing at duels, but was not allowed to play because of the boys' rule that only those who had killed something alive could participate.