Aerial photos reveal potential remains of a settlement in Iceland

A potential site of Viking Age settlers of Iceland is revealed by aerial pictures taken at the tip of Seltjarnarnes Peninsula, north-western Iceland. The ring structures were discovered in 1980s but so far were not a subject of archaeological excavations.

Ring structures near Reykjavik (by Þorgeir S. Helgason)

The only academic studies which have been conducted at the site were performed by the National Museum in the late 1990s which revealed that the rings had been constructed shortly after the layer of volcanic material dated to 871 AD. The generally accepted date of the settlement of Iceland according to the Sagas is 874 AD, which might indicate that the structures belong to the first period of Iceland’s settlement. Yet recently numerous studies, including C14 radiocarbon dating suggested that the settlement of the icland began much earlier, perhaps as much as 100 before Ingólfur Arnarson settled in Reykjavík, according to Landnámabók, the Book of Settlements.

Ring structures (by Þorgeir S. Helgason)

Researchers believe that the ring-structures at the site might be connected with a wave of Irish settlers. There are place names which seem to have Irish roots, especially in South-West Iceland and the area around Faxaflói Bay, as proof of a strong Irish presence in the early days of Iceland’s settlement. Structures built in this architectural tradition are said to have been present in Irish landscape until 1200 AD, with outhouses or dwellings, built inside the boundary walls.

Structures photographed near Reykjavik (by Þorgeir S. Helgason)

(after Þorgeir S. Helgason &  Iceland Magazine)

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