Intact Walls from an 11th Century Turf House Found in Seyðisfjörður Skip to content
Archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður
Photo: Indriði Skarðhéðinsson, Antikva ehf. Archeological dig in Seyðisfjörður.

Intact Walls from an 11th Century Turf House Found in Seyðisfjörður

The undamaged walls of a manmade structure dating back to the 11th century have been found in an archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður, East Iceland. RÚV reports that the walls are in such good condition because they were buried by a landslide that occurred around 1150.

“We’ve uncovered a number of structures or houses that seem to be under the landslide from 1150,” explained archaeologist Ragnheiður Traustadóttir. “So it’s just really exciting, what we’re starting to see here.” Uncovering the ruins is an ongoing process, Ragnheiður said, “but we’ve got some exciting weeks ahead.”

There are plans in the works to build landslide barriers in Seyðisfjörður to protect the town, which has been subjected to a number of devastating mud- and landslides in recent years. So this summer, as during the previous two, archaeologists have been working to uncover and preserve whatever artefacts they may find in advance of this construction. A number of smaller artefacts were found last summer, some of which dated back to the earliest settlement of Iceland. The landslide from 1150 was discovered last autumn, and beneath it, four pagan graves. Ragnheiður says this discovery changed the course of the dig, prompting the archaeologists to investigate the area under the landslide more closely.

Pearls found at the archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður
Knut Paasche. Pearls found in a woman’s pagan grave at the archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður.
A chess piece found at the archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður
Knut Paasche. A chess piece found in a man’s pagan grave at the archaeological dig in Seyðisfjörður.

“What is perhaps the most interesting is that the landslide doesn’t appear to have damaged these houses,” she said. “Maybe it had lost all momentum by the time it had made it down here, to the settlement, and so just piled up along the turf walls and hills and so now we’re digging out unusually intact turf walls.”

Ragnheiður told Iceland Review that researchers are just beginning to uncover the structures at this time, but expect to eventually find even older artefacts, dating back to the time of settlement (9th century). The dig will continue until mid-August.

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