Iceland: Turf Sod Roofed Homes and Barns


The Turf Houses of Iceland
Art Prints

Traditional Icelandic Sod or Turf Houses, Barns and Buildings: If you look hard enough in the country side of Iceland, you might just spot some of the traditional sod roofed barns, farm houses and storage buildings hidden in the hills.

Icelandic turf houses (Icelandic: torfbæir) were the product of a difficult climate, offering superior insulation compared to buildings solely made of wood or stone, and the relative difficulty in obtaining other construction materials in sufficient quantities.

Lack of good timber lead the Norwegian settlers in Iceland to turn to turf house construction using local birch as support beams.

The common Icelandic turf house would have a large foundation made of flat stones; upon this was built a wooden frame which would hold the load of the turf. The turf would then be fitted around the frame in blocks often with a second layer, or in the more fashionable herringbone style. The only external wood would be the doorway which would often be decorative.


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