Sheep round-up, Gnúpverjahreppur, Iceland

Jennifer Kingsley
September 12, 2015

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There are more sheep than people in the ring when we arrive.

The Queen of the Mountain has been organizing the sheep herders up in the highlands for a week, and today the animals are driven down to Skaftholtsréttir, the annual sheep round up for this region.

The central ring, which is made from lava and is the oldest of its kind in Iceland, is surrounded by pens that bear the names of different farms. This is a sorting operation. The mission is to find your sheep and get them into the right pen. Most people identify the sheep by the tags in their ears, but some farmers recognize their animals’ faces.

There used to be 12,000 sheep to sort, but these days there are only 3,000. Regardless, it’s a very important day, and it’s fun. People share drinks and there’s a lot of laughter. When it’s over, a group of locals take over the ring and fill it with song.

Photo by Eric Guth.

Sheep and colourful people at Skaftholtsréttir