The opening scene of the Star Wars movie Rogue One (on the planet Eadu) was shot near Vik, Iceland on the black sand beach of Mýrdalssandur and the nearby plateau (technically an inselberg) of Hjörleifshöfði (seen in the accompanying photos). (An inselberg is an “isolated hill or mountain abruptly rising from a plain.”) Hjörleifshöfði looms mysteriously over the Ring Road when headed east in Iceland from Vik, the location of several famous black sand beaches. (Location at Google Maps.)
I shot these photos from an Extreme Iceland minibus on a two-day tour with the company. Unfortunately the tour did not stop at Hjörleifshöfði, though that is certainly an option for travelers. I will surely hit this location next time I’m in the area. (Update: I visited!)
Local legend says that Hjörleifshöfði is haunted, and that is no surprise judging by the mysterious appearance. The inselberg is named after the Nordic Viking Hjörleifur Hróðmarsson, the brother-in-law of Ingólfr Arnarson, the first settler in Iceland. Hjörleifur was killed on the inselberg by his Irish slaves in about 873 A.D. and his brother-in-law Ingólfr hunted down the slaves and killed them. Hjörleifur’s grave is located on the inselberg and is marked by a wood sign that says “here lies the Viking, Hjörleifur the second settler of Iceland Killed circa 873 A.D.”
The location features prominently in the opening scene of Rogue One. An Imperial ship can be seen flying over the black sand beach and landing near the inselberg. Watch the scene in the below video.