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ThesisUniversity of Iceland>Hugvísindasvið>Meistaraprófsritgerðir>

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/6937

Title

Þingvellir: Archaeology of the Althing

Published
November 2010
Abstract

The Norse General Assembly of Iceland, called the Althing at Þingvellir, was central to early Icelandic society in the Viking Age. Not only was it the high point of the annual social calendar, but it was also the focus of their ideals of justice and law-making, which the early Icelanders refined into an art. Here a description is given of the character of the Þingvellir site and how Geology is affecting the Archaeology; an overview is given of how the Althing and other assembly sites in Iceland were organised, and the significance of the relationship between Religion and Politics is also discussed. An important aspect of this study is an up-to-date summary of key archaeological research so far undertaken at Þingvellir.
This study will focus upon the Althing during the period of the Icelandic Commonwealth from c.930-1262. The aim of this research is to focus upon one aspect of the archaeology of the Althing by re-analysing the as-yet unidentified Byrgisbúð structure. It is located on the neck of land called Spöngin, between two water-filled fissures on the eastern edge of the assembly area. This unusual structure has been excavated and studied previously, but has yet to be satisfactorily interpreted. The re-analysis will be carried out in three parts, firstly to re-evaluate the excavation evidence in order to reconstruct the form and character of Byrgisbúð, and secondly looking at the existing theories surrounding the interpretation of the structure. Thirdly, this will then be placed into the context of the Althing through a comparison with other assembly sites. The hypothesis presented here is that Spöngin acted as a pagan sanctuary, and that the Lögrétta was originally located on Spöngin when the Althing was established in 930, but that it was later moved after the constitutional reforms of 965.

Issued Date
18/11/2010


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