End of excavation

Written by Hrönn Konráðsdóttir.


Now that summer is starting to fade away and autumn begins the excavation at Alþingisreitur is finishing and the post excavation work begins. A lot of interesting things have come to light during this season, both features and artifacts, and undoubtedly more discoveries will follow during the various specialist research.

This summer the excavation covered a 400 sq meters area which had archaeological features from the 9-11th Centuries. Quite a few walls were discovered, although all of them were either cut by later features or partly outside the excavation area. One of these was a smithy which is partly under Tjarnagata, the adjoining street. The wall was very well preserved but the archaeologists could not determine the shape of the building or size as only one side of it was inside the current excavation. Most of the building is therefore under the street but the wall that was found was build out of stones and turf with the landnam thephra layer in it, which is dated to around 871 . Other features in the area included a few hearths and a pavement made of stones which is in the picture below. The following post excavation work will be a interesting and demanding process of working through all the important material the archaeologists have gathered during the summer.


A lot of interesting artifacts were discovered during the summer. This included quite a lot of textiles, which is very exciting as it needs special conditions to be preserved in the ground so it is not a common find. The textile will be analzed by a specialist at some point this winter.

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A few spindle whorls made out or stone were found, here is one of them:


This part of a soap stone vessel was found up against one of the hearths, probably orignally imported from Norway:

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A part of a quern stone which was used to quern barley and possibly wheat was also discovered this summer:

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A lead weight, which was used to weigh commercial products:

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Perhaps it was used to weigh silver, which this beautiful bracelet found in the oldest layers was made of:


A lot of animal bones were found this summer. They will be analyzed down to species where it is possible in the following months. Some of them have been already and among those there are bones of the great auk (which is extinct), whale and even cat.

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This summer we offered guided tours around the excavation, both in English and Icelandic on weekdays and Sundays. They were very popular, on average 15-30 people showed up and we want to use this opportunity to thank everyone for the interest shown in this project.


In all this has been an excellent summer, the weather has been great for the archaeologists, although it was a bit dry for the archaeology. A lot of interesting material has been unearthed and now it is time to work through the data with a hot cup of coffee in hand and use the material gathered to get closer to the people that lived here around 1000 years ago. Who were they? And what were they the doing here? Yes there is a lot of work left even though the excavation is finished.