Landmark Project to Protect Archaeological Remains Skip to content
Gjáin Þjórsárdalur
Photo: Gjáin, Þjórsárdalur..

Landmark Project to Protect Archaeological Remains

The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland is now working on an unprecedented project that would collectively protect dozens of archaeological sites within Þjórsárdalur valley. Archaeological sites in Iceland are usually protected individually, but if the project is realised, it would be the first ever to protect multiple sites under a single declaration. The agency released a statement yesterday outlining the initiative. RÚV reported first.

Þjórsárdalur valley is the site of over 20 Viking Age farmsteads, the most recent of which was rediscovered just last fall. The area has yielded artefacts of interest such as a unique Thor’s hammer pendant dating back over 900 years.

The agency asserts that protecting the entire valley would simplify the protection of its artefacts and response to any threats they may face. It would also ensure that any artefacts discovered there in the future would be automatically protected.

[/media-credit] The proposed borders of the protected area in Þjórsárdalur. Blue and red dots mark archaeological sites currently protected by law.

Over 300 Viking Age artefacts

“Þjórsárdalur contains a unique collection of artefacts from the Middle Ages which are little touched by later development,” a report on the proposed declaration states. “In it lies great value, not only educational and experiential value for travellers and the general public, but also economic value for tourism in the region.” According to the agency, the National Museum’s director proposed protecting the entire area in the 1920s. While at the time some 22 archaeological sites were known, recent listings indicate there are over 300 artefacts in the valley. By linking the protected areas together under single declaration, the agency says, they would be implementing a policy formulated in 1927.

The Cultural Heritage Agency welcomes comments from the public on the proposed initiative by email at [email protected]. Comments must be sent no later than February 10.

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