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Movement at Mosfell. Routes, Traffic, and Power in a Viking Age Icelandic Valley


In recent years, the Mosfell Archaeological Project unearthed a Viking Age long house,
church, graveyard, and cremation burial mound at the site Hrísbrú in the Mosfell Valley.
Medieval place names suggest that this site was attractive for travelers and situated
adjacent to a campsite. Two main routes to the Reykjavík area converged on the site,
although there were other routes which bypassed Hrísbrú and led to the same
destinations. Local routes connected to the site to the nearby Viking Age ship’s landing
at the bay Leiruvogur. Travelers brought and spread news, and an ambitious individual
could turn such visits into a political advantage. Medieval texts state that the family of
Hrísbrú/Mosfell was led by prominent individuals in the Viking Age and that the site
was a place where travelers and even vagabonds were welcome. The leaders of
Hrísbrú/Mosfell most likely encouraged such visits and would use them to improve their
own reputation and political power when possible, although it is difficult to estimate the
amount of such traffic.


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