Stolen Artefacts Returned to Icelandic Museum 50 Years Later Skip to content

Stolen Artefacts Returned to Icelandic Museum 50 Years Later

By Yelena

Glaumbær museum turf house
Photo: Páll Stefánsson. Glaumbær Museum, Skagafjörður.

Three artefacts have been returned to Glaumbær Museum in North Iceland by post more than 50 years after they were stolen, RÚV reports. The museum staff was at first perplexed by the package, which contained no letter or explanation. They eventually contacted the sender in Germany, who had a strange explanation for the return of the items.

Last week Glaumbær Farm and Museum received a package from Germany in the post. The museum, a preserved turf farmhouse from the 18th and 19th centuries, often receives gifts in the post, though they are usually accompanied by letters explaining the origin and significance of the items enclosed.

Unmarked package bore familiar items

“There were three things in the package: a creamer, a butter tub, and a small backgammon checker, which is like a chip for backgammon. There was no explanation with them, no letter or memo,” stated Inga Katrín D. Magnúsdóttir, project manager at Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga (e. The Skagafjörður Settlement Museum), to which Glaumbær belongs. “[…W]e didn’t understand a thing but the more we thought about it and the more information we found here at the museum, the more exciting it became.”

artefacts Glaumbær turf house museum
A screenshot from RÚV. The artefacts were stolen in 1970 and returned to Glaumbær in August 2021.

Disappeared in 1970

A search in a database revealed more information about the objects. “The creamer, it was so familiar that we started to suspect that maybe it was possibly from here and then we went into our database, sarpur.is, and searched for the items we thought it resembled and then it came to light that there was an entry for this creamer and a comment had been written under it: ‘Disappeared from the museum July 23, 1970’.”

The museum staff decided to contact the sender who offered an interesting explanation for the items’ return. “He told us this story, that he had found these artefacts at a flea market many years ago and with the explanation that they were from Glaumbær in Skagafjörður. And now he was getting old and his descendants didn’t want to have them so he had decided to send them back now.”

Asked whether it was likely the man had stolen the items himself and returned them out of guilt, Inga Katrín stated only: “That may very well be.”

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