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Iceland Mag

Archeology

Map: The Viking Age settlement remains in downtown Reykjavík

By Magnús Sveinn Helgason

  • Viking Age Reykjavík was a vibrant village The earliest settlement in the area seems to date to the first half of the 8th century. You can click on the map to see it full frame. Map by Ivan Burkni/Iceland Magazine

This map shows Viking age remains that have been discovered in the centre of Reykjavík. It does not contain the outlines of walls, drains, pathways and other remains which have been discovered in the area.

The shore of the lake Tjörnin (the Pond) has also varied through history, and in the ninth century its north shore might have been somewhat further to the south than indicated, although the precise location has not been firmly established.

Similarly the width of  the river, connecting Tjörnin and the sea, which runs where Lækjargata street is currently, is not exactly known, but it probably was wide enough to navigate by boat allowing boats to dock along the north shore of the lake. Today the river runs in a sewer under the street"

Read more: The Viking-age settlement that is emerging in downtown Reykjavik

1: Remains of a boundary wall

2: Part of a settlement age long-house wall

3: At least one and half long-houses, two smithies, a rye storage and stone courtyard. The area, which is covered by a parking-lot, has only been partially explored.

4: A stone pathway, leading toward the lake, and a built up open stone drain, also leading towards the lake.

5: Parts of the stone pathway and the built up open stone drain, leading toward the lake. Various other settlement era remains, including a trash heap.

6: A large industrial area, stretching along Tjarnargata street and the shores of the downtown lake, which extended further north at the age of settlement. The area was found to have been home to at least four smithies and other workshops. These included workshops for iron, silver, wood and leather, rye, fish and meat processing, as well as a brewery.
Along the lake was a boundary wall, seperating the lake from the industrial area, as well as a wooden walkway, running alongside the boundary wall.

7: The remains of a smithy and part of a long-house

8: A large long-house from the 10th century and the remains of a 9th century wall, constructed prior to the settlement tephra 871+/-2. The earliest settlement at the site seems to date to the first half of the 8th century.

9: Fragmentary remains of a wall, either the wall of a long-house or an enclosure wall.

10: Fragment of a wall, either a boundary or an enclosure wall.

11: According to written documents a cemetery and church stood at this location around 1200, but it is believed that an earlier church would have stood at the same site, and that a church would have been constructed at the site following the adoption of Christianity in the year 1000. No excavation has yet taken place at the site.

12: Austurvöllur square is the single largest untouched area in downtown Reykjavík, and archaeologists are optimistic it might hold evidence and artefacts which could help shed further light on the Viking age settlement of Reykjavík. No excavation has yet taken place at the site.

13: The long-house by Lækjargata street is being excavated this summer. It has been revealed to be one of the largest longhouses in Iceland, possibly larger than the long-house by Aðalstræti street (8). A stone pathway seems to have led from the house in the direction of the river which connected the lake and the sea.

14: Preliminary studies in the parking lot south of the current archaeological dig have revealed settlement age remains. Excavations are to start this summer.

The image is based on a map provided by the Reykjavík City Museum and descriptions of each site were compiled with the help of archaeologists Vala Garðarsdóttir and Lisabet Guðmundsdóttir. However, we take full responsibility for any mistakes or errors that might be in the map.

 

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