Medieval graveyard found in basement Skip to content

Medieval graveyard found in basement

At least ten graves believed to date back to the Middle Ages were found in a basement of a house in Rangá in Hróarstunga, east Iceland. Three skulls have been discovered and the graves will be examined in detail next summer.

“My sons were digging up the floor to increase the distance to the ceiling and found a skull,” Soffía Benjamínsdóttir, who lives in the house, told Fréttabladid.

The family began changing its basement last summer. They wanted to deepen the floor and pour concrete over the parts of the basement that were made of earth.

Inga Sóley Kristjönudóttir, who serves as relics guard in east Iceland, arrived at the scene and discovered two more skulls. “The skulls are in a poor state and the bones are rotten,” she said. Further digging will have to wait until next summer, Kristjönudóttir added.

The house in Rangá is a century old and is one of the first houses that was made out of concrete in this region. When it was built bones were found, but still the location for the house was not changed.

“That is strange,” Kristjönudóttir said. “The house was built right on top of the cemetery and in 1915 pagan graves were found by the house.

The age of the three skulls has not been determined, but according to Kristjönudóttir, experts will try to find out how old the bones are. She believes the graveyard dates back to at least the 17th century and probably back to the Middle Ages.

According to historical sources, there was a chapel at Rangá in mediaeval times.

Benjamínsdóttir and her family do not find it uncomfortable to live in their house after a graveyard was discovered in the basement, but are anxious to be able to continue with their operations.

“Isn’t it like this in every other house? Our ancestors are all buried somewhere,” Benjamínsdóttir said. “I have always lived here and I’ve always felt good living here and this hasn’t changed anything. There are many people around here, but only good people and good spirits.”

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