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Iceland Mag

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Iceland was likely settled decades before the first Vikings arrived, claims professor Kristján Ahronson

By Staff

  • Seljalandsfoss in South Iceland Kverkhellir cave is located near the beautiful waterfall. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

According to archaeologist Kristján Ahronson, Kverkhellir, a deep, man-made cave near Seljalandsfoss waterfall in South Iceland, was likely constructed around AD 800, nearly seventy years before the first Vikings settled Iceland.

Read more: Archaeologists from seven countries excavating an old Viking farmhouse

“Iceland’s settlement is more complicated than previously thought,” Kristján told Morgunblaðið. The professor will give a lecture on his findings at the National University today.

Read more: Viking women accompanied male Vikings in early invasion of England

Kristján and his fellow researchers were able to predict the cave’s age by studying tephra layers found outside the cave’s mouth. According to Kristján, one of the tephra layers found outside Kverkhellir dated back to AD 871. However, during their excavations the group found waste material from an “episode of construction” at Kverkhellir – indicating that the cave is “older than any other site currently known in Iceland”, likely dating back to around AD 800.

Kristján believes that these early inhabitants may have been Irish monks which travelled widely around the North Atlantic at that time. 

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