Hallbjarnarstaðakambur – Iceland - Atlas Obscura


Three million year old fossils are exposed for all to see on this Icelandic shore. 


Stacked in crumbling sedimentary layers, millions of years worth of shell fossils have been exposed on the Icelandic beach known as Hallbjarnarstaðakambur. 

This secluded shore sits in northern Iceland and is marked by a small sign that simply reads, “fossil.” If visitors can locate the small sign and follow it towards the lone wharf-house that sits nearby, they will find a veritable national history museum embedded in the sea cliff wall. There among the gray stone are countless shells, prehistoric impressions, and other primordial relics. Deposited in ancient epochs when the sea level either shrunk to expose the chitinous fossils or the biological debris simply washed up towards the seawall, they represent millions of years of natural history exposed like a cross-section. This remarkable display is open to anyone willing to seek it out, but given the fragility of the site, tampering with or removing anything is strictly prohibited. However, Hallbjarnarstaðakambur offers a sort of time travel that is almost unheard of elsewhere in the world.

Know Before You Go

The fossils are not signed and so are not easy to find. Best to use GPS 66.145539°, -17.259286°. Directions are as follows: the fossils are about 11-12 km north of Husavik on Route 85. If heading north, look for an (easy to miss) narrow & rough track on the left down to the coastline, marked Tjörneshöfn (Tungulending Guesthouse). Just after the guesthouse is a small wharf. The fossils are in the cliffs beyond the guesthouse.

Beware if you go beyond the first river crossing behind the guesthouse, as you get closer to the arch of the bay there is a chance of falling rocks from above!Seagulls nest there and sometimes sheep walk the cliffs which make tumbling debris possible. 


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