The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland stopped construction of a hotel in downtown Reykjavík after the remains of a coffin were found by the site yesterday, RÚV reports. Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, the agency’s director, says it is necessary to investigate the area where the remains were found, which served as a cemetery from the 11th century until 1883.
The lot, located between Iceland’s Parliament and the Settlement Museum, is the former site of Víkurkirkjugarður, one of Iceland’s first Christian cemeteries. Víkurkirkjugarður was established in the 11th century, shortly after Christianity was adopted in Iceland. The cemetery was officially demolished in 1838, but burials continued there until 1883.
The Cultural Heritage Agency would like to make the site a protected area. The City of Reykjavík has previously stated it does not consider there to be grounds for special protection.
The hotel under construction, named the Iceland Parliament Hotel, is to be operated by Icelandair Hotels under the brand Curio by Hilton. Originally set to open this year, the hotel is planned to have 160 rooms.