early settlement history of iceland
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Early Settlement History of Iceland

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Early Settlement History of Iceland. Naddoddr. According to the Landn á mab ó k (Book of Settlement) Naddoddr was a Viking who was the first person to touch land in Iceland around 825 A.D. He named the country Sn æ land (Land of Snow). Iceland Voyages (9th Century A.D.).

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  • According to the Landnámabók (Book of Settlement) Naddoddr was a Viking who was the first person to touch land in Iceland around 825 A.D.
  • He named the country Snæland (Land of Snow)
Gardar Svavarsson was the first to make it through a winter
  • He reached Iceland due to a storm that blew his ship off course in 860 A.D.
  • He was also the first person to confirm that Iceland was an island
hrafna fl ki
  • Another Norseman who traveled with three ravens (Hrafna) to help lead him to Iceland
  • Also made it through the winter, but lost all his cattle
  • Vatnsfjordur
  • Borgarfjordur
  • He named Iceland (ísland)
ing lfur arnarson
Ingólfur Arnarson
  • A Norseman who had instigated a blood feud in Norway
  • He and his adopted brother Hjörleifur set out to explore Iceland
  • They made it through a winter and returned the following year with other settlers
  • Built a farmstead in Reykjavík
  • Landnámabók and Sagas as guides to sites
  • However, these sources left out many settlement areas including the Mývatn region (Mývatnssveit) in the northeast, which features a farm at Sveigakot and an iron-smelting site and farm at Hrísheimar (Edvardsson, 2003)
early life
Early life
  • Encountered birch woodlands (Smith, 1994; Vésteinsson, 1998, 2000)
  • Most early settlers farmed in wetland areas that did not require clearing
  • Areas prone to glacial flooding would allow for easy movement into the inland areas
  • Egalitarian farm distributions
resource depletion
Resource Depletion
  • Needed plants/trees for building materials, grazing, fuel (domestic and iron-smelting), farm land
  • Birch pollen greatly declines between 871 CE and 920 CE tephra layers
  • 1200 CE lack of fuel availability halted iron-smelting at Hrísheimar
  • Many sites abandoned due to erosion issues (Sveigakot)
  • Domesticated cattle, wild fish and birds, arctic fox, porpoise, seal and whale (McGovern et al. 2006)
  • Must have used internal trade for sea resources (caught and processed elsewhere and brought inland)
  • High presence of eggs (versus hunting birds) suggests some management practices
domesticated animals
Domesticated Animals
  • Goats, sheep, pigs, horses and cattle
  • Later in the records sheep take over and cattle decline while pigs and goats virtually drop out
  • This may be due to less available grazing land or attempts to control erosion problems
environmental effects
Environmental Effects
  • Now 73% of Iceland suffers from erosion issues (Arnalds et al., 2001, cited in Simpson et al., 2004)
  • Overgrazing prevented forest regeneration
  • Volcanic nature of soils makes them particularly susceptible to erosion
  • Although seasonal grazing was practiced at sites such as Sveigakot winter grazing seems to have gone unchecked
environmental effects15
Environmental Effects
  • Some farms in southern Iceland show evidence of land management practices that have maintained soil quality to present day.
  • It has also been suggested that some farms just had a string of bad seasons and that climate affected grazing seasons
  • Larger farms with greater resource access and knowledge of previous farm failures had a greater chance of survival
  • Volcanic activity, glacial flooding and climate changes should also be recognized as contributing factors