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Vikings in Iceland: The Origins Of The Settlements

Berglind Ros
Vikings in Iceland

Last Updated on September 6, 2019 by Berglind Ros

It is not a surprise that Iceland has a strong Scandinavian Link. In fact, it is a Scandinavian country. Its language, Icelandic, is currently the most similar one to old Norse. Nowadays children in Iceland can easily understand old Norse sagas. But, how did this happen? How come this remote Island in the north Atlantic Ocean became Viking? If you want to know the answer to these questions, keep on reading about the Origins of the settlement and Vikings in Iceland.

Vikings in Iceland

We all have heard about the Vikings, haven’t we? Those strong, tall, blond people. Crude, horned-helmet wearing men that used to sail the oceans. Ok, right actually the horned- helmet was not a Viking thing, or so historians say. But the truth is many people have that image in mind when thinking about them. Vikings were seafaring people whose origins were located in Northern Europe. They used to speak Old Norse, and in this language, Viking actually means “pirate”. Probably that is an accurate word for what we imagine the Vikings to be like. Most Vikings in Iceland came from Norway.

In the case of Iceland, Vikings were not exactly the first people to step a foot in the island. The first were actually Irish monks but they did not stay longer. As soon as the Norseman came to Iceland, they did not have a friendly relationship at all. Irish monks ended up “leaving” (rather expulsed).

Vikings in Iceland

Distance from Reykjavik to Oslo is about 1800 km in a straight line. It may not seem much in our modern world but think about the ancient times. That is quite a lot, even more if you are not flying but sailing! So, how did the Viking Norseman ended up there? Well, they did not directly head to Iceland. They love exploring and because of that, they had settlements in areas such the Faroe Islands, the north of Scotland and the Hebrides Islands.

It is said that the first Vikings is Iceland was a man whose name was Naddoðr from the Faroe Islands. He accidentally ended up in Iceland and thought it was an unhabitated area. When he was about to depart, it started to snow. It seems that Iceland’s first name was “Snowland” because of this. This was around the 800 B.C. Later on, on the 820 B.C, Garðarr Svavarsson, who was from Sweden, mistakenly arrived in Iceland. But instead of settling, he decided to circumnavigate it and confirmed it was indeed an island. They stayed during the winter in Husavík, on the north of Iceland. Husavík actually means “Hus a Vík” House at the bay.

When spring came, they decided to leave. But actually, three of his slaves escaped and stayed in Iceland. So we can finally say they were the first Vikings in Iceland to settle.

Vikings in Iceland

Vikings in Iceland: The Origins Of The Settlements

But how did Iceland got its name? was it from the first Vikings in Iceland? well, later on, around the 830 B.C Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson was the first one to actually make a trip to Iceland on purpose and not by accident. He arrived in Vatnsfjördur and created his settlement there. Waiting for the spring to come, which was taking quite long, he went up to the mountains. From there, he sighted the Fjord and many Icebergs floating away. That is when he decided to name the island “Iceland”

Fun fact: If you ever watched “Vikings” the TV series, Flóki character is actually based on this real Flóki. I bet now you are even more eager to know about Vikings in Iceland!

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