Many on this list are History minded and repeditly I receive questions about the early past in Icelandic history. How we Icelanders, and consequently the descendants of the Icelandic settlers in N-America, connect to the old ages. When did people come to Iceland, from where and who were they?
the first settler in Iceland
Statue by Einar Jónsson
Various things seem to show that navigators were acquainted with Iceland and its situation with regard to neighboring countries as early as the fourth century before the birth of Christ (according early Greek historians) or even earlier, but permanent human habitation is not known to have been in the island until about 800 A.D., when some Irish hermits made their temporary homes there in a few places. Little is, however, known about these first settlers. Old writers have it that these Irish anchorites left the country when heathen colonization began, for they would have no intercourse with the pagans.
, from western Norway, arrived in Iceland with his attendants 874 A. D., intending to settle here permanently. He built his home where Reykjavík
now stands, the capital of Iceland. That is the beginning of the colonization period which ends in 930. It has been estimated that 10 to 20 thousand people came to Iceland in this period. The settlement of the country is recorded in a book called the Landnámabók
or Book of Settlement, compiled in the 12th and 13th centuries, where some 400 of the principal settlers are enumerated, their settlements described as well as their origin, the districts mentioned from which they came and the families descended from them. Many of these settlers, who were of noble birth, came from Norway, Ireland, Scotland, The Hebrides, Shetland and the Orkney Islands, but as regards their nationality many points are still obscure. Many of them seem to have belonged to an upper class who for some time ruled ín these regions, but the old writers tell us that many of them were driven from their native country by the tyrannical rule of Haraldur the Fair-haired
, who was the first absolute King of Norway.
As mentioned, The Book of Settlement gives interesting information regarding the settlers' genealogy which makes it possible to link them to modern time.
To the right you can see how the first settler in Iceland connects to the historian Snorri Sturluson
. Many of you will find him in your Ancestry tree. Let me know if you do. Or don't.