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by Nokki Nollason July 14, 2020 4 min read

The period in history called the "Viking Age" lasted from about 700 until 1100 AD. During that time, old Viking villages were mostly rural, and most of the inhabitants earned their living mainly by farming (believe it or not).

As Viking settlements were becoming overpopulated, and economic resources nearly exhausted, this way of earning money was simply not enough for a Viking family to lead a decent life.

All this resulted in many Viking families leaving their homes and starting to build their life anew on unknown, distant shores.

One such trip brought the Viking people to the coast of Iceland.

When did the Vikings Discover Iceland?

According to all previous records, it was considered that the Vikings permanently inhabited Iceland in 874. The latest settlements that have been found prove that the Vikings lived in this area decades earlier.

Namely, the recent excavation of the ancient Viking settlement, which was started in 2015 by a team of archaeologists led by Bjarni F. Einarson, revealed two large halls. The halls are believed to have been used by the Vikings as temporary camps during the summer, and perhaps even autumn.

What is the Significance of Viking Seasonal Camps?

These seasonal camps, were in fact, hunting camps. It is believed that these camps were later used for the expansion of Viking settlements further west towards the Atlantic.

While staying in their seasonal camps, the Vikings exploited local resources, such as whale skin and meat. They would later use those resources to finance their further explorations and construction of permanent settlements.

So we come to the conclusion that this was actually a kind of pattern according to which the Vikings inhabited new areas.

First, they would build temporary (seasonal) camps, and when the conditions were met, they would create permanent settlements.

Found Viking Buildings (So Far)

Just when we thought that we knew almost everything about the life and movement of the ancient Viking people, there was a sudden change as new ancient settlements were discovered.

Bjarni F. Ajnarson, together with his team, found an undiscovered Viking settlement in the vicinity of a village near the Stöðvarfjörður fjord.

What their team discovered cast a shadow on all previous research. As we have already mentioned, they found two halls and the older building was built almost 80 years before the other one.

This meant that the Vikings inhabited Iceland much earlier than previously thought and that some secrets about these ancient people were still not revealed.

The "Older" Hall

According to chemical and other analyses, it has been confirmed that this hall was built around 800 A.D. According to the parts that have been explored so far, it has been determined that it is one of the most significant Viking buildings ever found in Iceland.

The hall was at least 40 meters long (about 131 feet), and in addition to the wooden construction, various decorative and valuable objects were found in it, such as Roman coins, as well as those from the Middle East.

Moreover, various rings and small pieces of gold were found, which are believed to be the oldest Viking objects discovered in Scandinavia.

The Vikings most likely obtained all these items by trading local resources.

Another exciting discovery is that the westernmost part of the hall was a space intended for working with metal. It was the only smithy inside the old Viking village halls in Iceland.

The "Younger" Hall

This one was built inside the older hall after its walls were demolished.

Due to the precious items found in it, this hall is considered the wealthiest Viking hall ever discovered.

And precisely because of that, it is believed to have belonged to the Viking leader, Ingolf Arnarson. Ingolf set off from Norway together with his friends in search of a better life for his people.

He wanted to find a land uninhabited and untouched, to secure a better life for his people.

Which Viking Discovered Iceland?

According to the legend, Ingolf Arnarson, one of the Viking leaders, searched for a better place to live when he noticed land (today's Iceland) in the distance. He prayed to the Gods to show him in which direction to go and where to settle.

In 874, his ship anchored off the coast of Iceland, and it was believed that they were the first inhabitants of this magnificent island.

But, that doesn't seem to have been the case after these recent discoveries.

The hall that was found under the one that was built at that time (around 874 A.D.) proves that the Vikings had lived in that place many years earlier.

What did the Interior of the Viking Halls Look Like?

As mentioned earlier, these buildings were made of solid wood, and the interior was divided into several rooms. This indicates that these halls were used as communal homes and that several Viking families lived within them.

A fireplace was built in the central part of the room to keep everyone warm, and animals were free to roam the inside of the buildings.

Some parts of these ancient halls are still being explored, and we hope that we will soon find out many more exciting details about the Vikings and their life back in the Viking era.

And Until Then ...

We can conclude that the Vikings were not just brute warriors, as they are often portrayed nowadays. They were wise and fearless people who fought for the survival of their families as these excavations showed.

Until our next meeting,

Skål! 


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