The Settlement of Reykjavík

The Settlement of Reykjavík (HM2A5M)

Location: Reykjavík 101
Country: Iceland
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N 64° 8.842', W 21° 56.524'

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(English side:)

Archaeological remains have been found in the city centre. They date back to the settle-ment period in the 9th century to modern times. This is the site of the first settlement of Reykjavík and it is believed that the farmstead reached from Vonarstrimti to Grjótagata.

The first settlers came to Iceland from Norway and the British Isles in the 9th century. At this time the environment was quite different from what we see today. There were birch wood forests that for various reasons had for the most part vanished by the year 1000. The sea level was considerably lower and the homes of the early settlers were built on a gravel bank typical of the area at the time.

Beyond it was the Lake, much larger than today, as it extended as far as the present site of the Reykjavík Cathedral. A brook flowed from it out to sea, where Lækjargata (Brook Street) now stands.

Archaeological findings provide us with a clear picture of the life of the early Icelandic community in the 9th and 10th centuries, the period described in the Sagas of Icelanders. People lived in longhouses, a common type of turf houses in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. By one of these longhouses was a smithy where metal was melted and forged.

At the site was a well organized common zone, utilised in various ways by the



inhabitants. Iron was processed from bog iron, barley was worked and baking took place over open hearths in the area.
Animal bones found during the excavations show that the settlers hunted birds for food and caught fish and shellfish at sea. They were agricultural people as well and raised cattle and pigs. Walrus ivory was an export commodity in these times but walruses became more scarce by the Icelandic shores in the 11th century.

Research shows that it is probable that more archaeological remains from the early settlement period lie concealed under the modern buildings and road constructions in the city centre. Therefore, the settlement of Reykjavik and the life of the first settlers remains to be explored further. One 10th century longhouse has been preserved and it can be seen at the Settlement Exhibition 871 ±2 in Aðalstræti 16.

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(Icelandic side:)

Í miðbænum hafa fundist fornminjar frá öllum tímum Íslandssögunnar og er hér að finna elstu byggð í Reykjavík. Talið er að elsta bæjarstæðið hafi náð frá Vonarstræti og norður fyrir Grjótagötu en á þvi hafa staðið nokkur hús.

Fyrstu landnemarnir komu frá Noregi og Bretlandseyjum á 9. öld en þá var umhverfið töluvert öðruvísi en það er í dag. Hér óx birkiskógur sem af ýmsum ástæðum var að mestu horfinn um árið 1000. Staða sjávar var lægri og húsin á bæjarstæðinu stóðu á malarkambi



sem var einkennandi fyrir svæðið á þessum tíma.

Nálægt húsunum lá Tjörnin sem var mun stærri en nú og náði þangað sem Dómkirkjan stendur. Þar sem nú er Lækjargata rann lækur úr Tjörninni til sjávar.

Minjarnar sem hafa fundist í miðænum gefa góða mynd af því samfélagi sem hér myndaðist á 9.-10. öld, á sögutima Íslendingasagna. Fólk bjó í skálum sem var algeng gerð torfhúsa í Skandinaviu á víkingaöld. Við einn þessara skála stóð smiðja þar sem málmur var bræddur og unninn. Í grennd við bæjarhúsin var skipulagt athafnasvæði þar sem fólk kom saman og stundaði ýmis störf. Þar fór fram járnvinnsla úr mýrarrauða en rauðinn var sóttur í mýrarnar í kring. Vinnsla á korni og bakstur fór fram yfir eldstæðum á svæðinu.

Dýrabein sem hafa fundist við fornleifarannsóknir benda til þess að landnámsmenn hafi veitt sér fugla til matar og nýtt sér auðlindir sjávar. Þeir stunduðu landbúnað og ræktuðu meðal annars nautgripi og svín. Afurðir rostungs nýttust vel en þær voru vinsælar erlendis og þvi verðmæt útflutningsvara. Rostungum fækkaði þó töluvert við strendur landsins 11. öld.

Rannsóknir sýna að fornleifar frá fyrstu tíð liggja undir götum og húsum i miðbænum. Það er því margt enn ókannað varðandi landnám og fyrstu aldir byggðar í Reykjavík. Einn skáli hefur verið varðveittur frá 10. öld en hann er á Landnámssýningunni 871 ±2 í Aðalstræti 16.
Details
HM NumberHM2A5M
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Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Thursday, August 9th, 2018 at 1:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)27W E 454165 N 7113774
Decimal Degrees64.14736667, -21.94206667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 64° 8.842', W 21° 56.524'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds64° 8' 50.52" N, 21° 56' 31.44" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 8 Kirkjustræti, Reykjavík 101, IS
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