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The origin of the waterfall's name is not completely clear. In modern Icelandic
, the name can be read either as "waterfall of the goð
(pagan idols)" or "waterfall of the goði
(chieftain)." Linguist and placename expert Svavar Sigmundsson suggests that the name derives from two crags at the falls which resemble pagan idols. In 1879-1882, a myth was published in Denmark according to which the waterfall was named when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði
the official religion of Iceland in the year 999 or 1000. Upon returning home from the Alþingi
, Þorgeir supposedly threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall. However, although the story of Þorgeir's role in the adoption of Christianity
in Iceland is preserved in Ari Þorgilsson
no mention is made of Þorgeir throwing his idols into Goðafoss. The legend appears to be a nineteenth-century fabrication.
Nevertheless, a window in Akureyrarkirkja
, the main church at Akureyri
, illustrates this story.
Photo Copyright © Jess Lee. Photo © copyright by Jess Lee.