On Wednesday 27th September, visiting Icelandic archaeologist, Dr Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir, will talk about the latest research into early settlement in Iceland in the first lecture of this year’s History & Heritage lecture series at University College Isle of Man.
As far as we know, Iceland was first settled permanently in the 9th century, as a result of the second expansion of the Vikings into the North Atlantic. Until the mid-20th century the main sources for this were the sagas and other written sources, none of which are contemporary with the events. Written sources don’t begin to appear until the 12th and 13th centuries.
Although archaeology has played its part for a long time, the last 30 years or so have seen a tremendous increase in archaeological activity in Iceland, the results of which are gradually filling in the picture.
One of the sites investigated in recent years is Reykholt in Borgarfjörður. Reykholt was occupied in the first half of the 13th century by the magnate and historian Snorri Sturluson. Sturluson was the author of a number of contemporary written sources, including the Edda and the Heimskringla. As the site was excavated, some unusual and sophisticated structures were unearthed which throw a special light on this high status site.
Dr Sveinbjarnardóttir will introduce what is currently known about the earliest settlement of Iceland, before discussing the main findings of the investigations at Reykholt and exploring what they add to our knowledge of the development of settlement in Iceland.
Dr Sveinbjarnardóttir is currently President of the Viking Society for Northern Research, and is based at University College London.
‘The Early Settlement of Iceland: Archaeology and the Written Record’ will take place in the Main Hall at University College Isle of Man (Homefield Road Campus) at 6pm on Wednesday 27th September. All are welcome, and no booking is required. The lecture will be recorded and should be made available online at a later date.
This year’s History & Heritage lecture series covers a wealth of topics, both local and international. Forthcoming lectures will explore a Roman villa in Italy, mental health in European POW camps, votes for women, and Jewish immigration to Britain in the 1930s and ’40s, as well as 10th century Manx crosses, the history of Rushen Abbey, and 19th-century circuses on the Island.
While previous lectures were held in the Lecture Theatre at Elmwood House, this year’s lectures will be held in the Main Hall at UCM, on the Homefield Road campus to allow for greater access and additional seating.
Further details about this year’s History & Heritage lecture series, together with videos of previous lectures, can be found online at catrionamackie.net/lectures/.
Photo - Viking Age longhouse in Reykjavík. Photo: Lísabet Guðmundsdóttir.