This amazing find of the oldest Viking settlement delays the settlement date of the Vikings by decades.
In the famous Vikings series , Floki’s character – based on the historical figure of Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson – ventures into the sea after hearing rumors of a new land to the west, thinking that there he will be able to do tabula rasa and settle down with his group of Chosen colonists, finally reaching what is now Iceland.
Now archaeologists believe they have unearthed what could be the oldest of these settlements on the island.
The remains belong to a communal house built in the 800s, decades before what official history claims was the arrival of the Vikings to the place
“The building was hidden under another equal but more modern house full of treasures,” says archaeologist Bjarni Einarsson, who led the excavations.
In the Viking Age, people lived in these types of houses, ranging from 5 to 7 meters wide to 20 and 70 meters long, depending on the wealth and social position of the owner.
In much of the Nordic region, communal houses were built around wooden frames on simple stone foundations.
The walls were built with planks and logs or with straw and adobe.
Inside, the communal house was divided into rooms that could be shared by several families.
Two rows of poles ran the length of the longhouse as support for the roof joists.
These columns divided each interior room into three sections or long naves.
The columns supported the ceiling, and as a result the walls carried little weight.
In the center stone bonfires were built for heating, where even farm animals could be protected from the cold.
In this case, both communal houses were found in Stöð, near the town and fjord of Stöðvarfjörður, in eastern Iceland.
The most modern structure dates from around 874 AD – the accepted date for the settlement of people in Iceland who, according to the Icelandic popular saying, escaped from the Norwegian king Harald Fairhair.
“It contains objects such as ornamental beads, rings, gold, silver, and ancient Roman and Middle Eastern coins,” says Einarsson.
According to the archaeologist, the residents would have obtained these goods thanks to the exchange of indigenous resources, especially skins and meat of whales and seals, which were extremely valuable throughout Scandinavia.
Atlantic expansion of the Vikings
Hidden under the treasure-filled communal house was another, even older, structure. Chemical analysis and others suggest that the latter was built in the 800s, long before there was a permanent settlement in Iceland, “explains Einarsson.
The expert thinks that it could have been a station or camp settlement, occupied only during the summer and perhaps the fall, by workers from the area.
Excavations in the more modern communal house of the two found in Stöð.
So far, parts of the oldest building investigated show that it was one of the largest communal houses ever found in Iceland.
“We know that the western part of the corridor was a blacksmith shop, the only one within one of these known constructions on the island,” he details.
“The seasonal camp at Stöð was similar in scale and function to the Viking settlement discovered at L’Anse aux Meadows, a site on the northern tip of the island of Newfoundland, Canada, dated to around 1000 AD.”
Excavations in the oldest of the two communal houses found in Stöð.
“This was a Viking pattern for the islands of the Atlantic Ocean. First, we had the seasonal camps and later the settlements came, “concludes Einarsson, who discovered the Stöð ruins in 2007 and began excavations in 2015.
The project is funded and supported by the Icelandic Archaeological Foundation, the region’s municipal government, private companies and the locals.