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Did Scandinavians live in Iceland earlier than previously thought?

Photo: Bjarni Einarsson

Archaeologists excavating a Viking Age longhouse in Iceland have discovered an older building that they have dated to the 7th century - placing it decades before the official colonisation of Iceland by Scandinavians began.

An excavation has been underway in eastern Iceland since 2015, and now archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson and his team have discovered what is the oldest known building on the island, reports Arkeloggen and Smithsonian Mag.

According to the official history, which is recorded in the 13th century book Landnámabók, the first permanent Scandinavian settlers arrived in Iceland in 874. According to this historical document, the first permanent settlers were Ingólfur Arnarson and his wife Hallveig Fródadóttir, who settled in what is now Reyjkjavik. They were followed by many of their compatriots who were fleeing from the Norwegian king Harald Hårfager.

But even before 874, Scandinavians had set foot in Iceland. According to Landnámabók had both the Norwegian Naddoðr and a Swede with the name Garðarr Svavarsson discovered and spent the night on the island, the latter in the 860s. Naddoðr gave the island the name Snöholm, while Garðarr thought it should be called Gardarsholm (Garden Centres). Garðarr landed on the north coast, in the interior of Skjálfandi Bay. He built himself a house and spent the winter there. The place has been called Húsavík ever since - a place now known from Netflix Eurovision films.

But with this discovery, it may be time to question again whether Naddoðr and Garðarr were really the first Norsemen in Iceland, which is not the first time for archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson.

Archaeologists interpret the discovery as a seasonal settlement where people went in the summer to return before winter with valuable goods. The discovery may lead to a reinterpretation of the Scandinavian Vikings' colonisation process.

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2 thoughts on “Bodde skandinaver på Island tidigare än man trott?

  1. Bengt Dahlberg says:

    Somewhere I have read that people from Ireland, perhaps monks, had been in Iceland before Scandinavians.
    Unfortunately, I can't remember where and in which language I saw the task.

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