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Viking Congress 2001 – Faroe Islands


19th – 30th July.


Viking and Norse in the North Atlantic.


Anfinn Kallsberg, løgmaður.

Organising Committee:

Arne Thorsteinsson, Símun V. Arge, Jóhan Hendrik Winther Poulsen.

Student Assistant: Maiken Poulsen.

National Representatives:

Denmark: Else Roesdahl, Niels Lund.

England: Richard Hall, Judith Jesch.

Faroe Islands: Arne Thorsteinsson, Andras Mortensen.

Iceland: Guðmundur Ólafsson, Svavar Sigmundsson.

Ireland: Donnchadh Ó Corráin, John Sheehan.

Scotland: Christopher Morris, Doreen Waugh.

Sweden: Anne-Sofie Gräslund, Helmer Gustavson.

Delegates of the Congress:


Svend Erik Albrethsen, Jan Bill, Trine Buhl, Gillian Fellows-Jensen, Peder Gammeltoft, Steffen Stummann Hansen, Pernille Hermann, Jørgen Højgaard Jørgensen, Niels & Jette Lund, Ditlev Mahler, Michael Lerche Nielsen, Anne Pedersen, Else Roesdahl, Marie & Bjarne Stoklund.


Lesley Abrams, Michael & Kirsten Barnes, James Barrett, Mark Blackburn, Paul Buckland, Jayne Carroll, Peter Foote, James Graham-Campbell, Richard Hall, Judith Jesch, John S. McKinnell, Richard North, Julian Richards, Andrew Wawn.

Faroe Islands

Símun V. Arge, Joannes Dalsgaard, Kirstin Eliasen, Kári Jespersen, Jóan Pauli Joensen, Anna Katrin Matras, Helgi Michelsen, Andras Mortensen, Lena Nolsøe, Jóhan Hendrik Winther Poulsen, Jógvan Ravnsfjall, Arne Thorsteinsson, Eivind Weihe.


Torsten Edgren.


Svavar Sigmundsson & Þorgerður Árnadóttir, Anton Holt, Guðmundur Ólafsson, Gísli Sigurðsson, Þórgunnur Snædal, Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir, Sigríður Þorvaldsdóttir & Sverrir Tómasson.


Howard B. Clarke, Stephen Harrison, Donnchadh Ó Corráin, John Sheehan.


James Knirk & Kari Egeland, Signe Horn Fuglesang, Knut Helle, Sigrid Kaland, Claus Krag, Else Mundal, Ingvild Øye, Heid Gjøstein Resi, Birgit Sawyer & Peter Sawyer, Dagfinn Skre, Gro Steinsland & Ragnar Søderlind.


Colleen Batey, Olwyn Owen & Nigel Beal, Barbara Crawford, Ian Fisher, Andrew Jennings, Arne Kruse, Susan Kruse, Mary MacLeod, Christopher Morris, Brian Smith, Val Turner, Doreen Waugh & William Waugh.


Stefan Brink, Anne-Sofie Gräslund, Helmer Gustavson, Birgitta Hårdh, Ingmar Jansson, Kenneth Jonsson, Thomas Lindkvist, Lena Peterson, Neil Price & Linda Qviström, Henrik Williams.


A half-day excursion went to Northern Streymoy with visits to the Viking farmhouse in Kvívík, the church in Hvalvík, the village of Saksun, and to Tjørnuvík, where the islands’ first Viking burial ground was discovered in 1956. Another half-day excursion was made to Kirkjubøur on Streymoy, the episcopal residence and cultural centre of the islands in medieval times.

The Post-congress excursions went to Sandoy, Skúvoy and to Eysturoy.


Føroya Sparikassi, Letterstedtska Föreningen, Mentamálaráðið, Atlantic Airways, Fóm Ísur, Føroya Banki, Føroya Bjór, Føroya Handilsskúli, Norðurlandahúsið, Restorffs Bryggjarí, Strandferðslan, Tekniski Skúli and the staff of Skúlaheimið.


Congress Diary:

As decided at the 13th Viking Congress in Nottingham, the 14th Viking Congress was held in the Faroes in 2001. Most of the members arrived in Tórshavn on the 19th of July, and the congress could begin the next morning.

On behalf of the Patron of the Congress, Anfinn Kallsberg, Prime Minister of the Faroes, the 14th Viking Congress was opened in Tórshavn on the 20th of July 2001 by Deputy Prime Minister Høgni Hoydal. It was a bright summers day with a blue sky and sunshine, and the 98 members, associates and companions were lucky to enjoy the same fine weather during the whole congress.

The main theme of the 14th Viking Congress was “Viking and Norse in the North Atlantic”, and nearly 70 papers had been announced from all disciplines of study of the Viking Age. The great interest unfortunately made it necessary to read papers in two simultaneous sessions, and 3 full and 3 half days were spent giving lectures followed by fruitful discussions. Most of the papers are printed in this volume, which certainly is going to throw new light on the Viking and later Norse age in the North Atlantic, especially in the Faroes.

The congress lectures were given in The Faroese Commercial School, but one evening a public lecture was arranged in the Nordic House in Tórshavn. Professor Knut Helle had been asked to give a public lecture on the position of the Faroes and the other scat lands in the medieval Norwegian dominion, a topic which has great public interest these days, and the lecture was attended by a large public audience.

All meals were taken at Skúlaheimið of the Technical School, where the members of the congress also had the opportunity to socialise in the evenings. Receptions were given by Óli Holm, Minister of Culture, and by Føroya Fornminnissavn, which offered a taste of a wide range of traditional Faroese specialities. The main social event, however, was the congress dinner at Skúlaheimið, where the members got the opportunity to taste one of the greatest Faroese dishes, puffins stuffed with cake dough and raisins, and nearly all did. Faroese chain dancing was of course part of the evening.

During the main congress, excursions were made to places and sites of cultural historical and archaeological interest. The first half-day excursion was to Northern Streymoy with visits to the Viking farmhouse in Kvívík, the church in Hvalvík, the village of Saksun, and to Tjørnuvík, where the islands’ first Viking burial ground was discovered in 1956. Another half-day excursion took us to Kirkjubøur on Streymoy, the episcopal residence and cultural centre of the islands in medieval times. The most famous monument on this site is the remains of the cathedral dedicated to St Magnus – an outstanding Gothic monument in the middle of the North Atlantic.

The main congress ended on the 25th of July and the next day some members left for home, while many stayed on to take part in the post-congress excursions. On July 26 we went to Sandoy and Skúvoy and on July 27 to Eysturoy. On Skúvoy the members paid a visit to Ólansgarður, where Sigmundur Brestisson, who christianized the Faroes, according to Færeyinga saga and local tradition, built the first church of the islands, at which he was buried. On Sandoy we visited the historical villages of Húsavík and Sandur. In Húsavík we were informed about the wealthy and famous Húsfrúgvin í Húsavík and presented to the remains of her large farm buildings. Continuing investigations during the last 35 years and the complexity of the archaeological records have made the village of Sandur one of the islands key archaeological sites, which have shown potential for multi-disciplinary archaeological and environmental research.

The full-day excursion to Eysturoy took us to Eiði, where archaeological excavations in the 1970s revealed Viking and medieval settlement remains and in the 1980s an early shieling site at Argisbrekka by the lake of Eiðisvatn. From there we drove to Leirvik to visit the Viking farm at Toftanes, excavated between 1982-87, and other interesting sites in this village, i.a. the well preserved ruin of a medieval chapel, Bønhústoft, apparently demolished during the Reformation.

It had been arranged that those who wished might stay on for the St. Olaf’s Festival, and a lot of the members took this opportunity and did not leave the Faroes until July 30 or 31. The weather stayed very fine all the time, and it was our impression that the members were very satisfied with the whole arrangement. And the organizers want to express their gratitude to those members who afterwards sent us so many positive letters.

The success of the congress was due to the efforts of many people and institutions. The organizers want to thank Føroya Sparikassi, Letterstedtska Föreningen, and Mentamálaráðið for their generous financial support. We want to thank Atlantic Airways, Fóm Ísur, Føroya Banki, Føroya Bjór, Føroya Handilsskúli, Norðurlandahúsið, Restorffs Bryggjarí, Strandferðslan, and Tekniski Skúli for their generosity and cooperation. And at last we especially want to thank the staff of Skúlaheimið for their hospitality, and the friendly readiness all our wishes were met with.

Arne Thorsteinsson and Símun V. Arge, the Organising Committee.

Congress Proceedings:

Viking and Norse in the North Atlantic. Select Papers from the Proceedings of the Fourteenth Viking Congress, Tórshavn, 19-30 July 2001. Ed. Andras Mortensen and Símun V. Arge. Annales Societatis Scientiarum Færoensis Supplementum XLIV. Tórshavn 2005.


Chapter 1Knut Helle The position of the Faeroes and other ‘tributarylands’ in the medieval Norwegian dominion 11
Chapter 2Símun V. Arge Cultural Landscapes and CulturalEnvironmental issues in the Faroes 22
Chapter 3Arne Thorsteinsson “There is another set of small islands” 39
Chapter 4Else Mundal Færeyinga saga – a Fine Piece of Literaturein Pieces  43
Chapter 5Andrew Wawn Færeyinga saga: Victorian Visions and Versions52
Chapter 6Richard North Money and religion in Færeyinga saga60
Chapter 7Gro Steinsland The Mythology of Rulership and the Sagaof the Faroe Islanders 76
Chapter 8 Andras Mortensen One Facet of the Tendency inFæreyinga Saga 87
Chapter 9Ditlev L. Dall Mahler & Arne Jouttijärvi Experiments withpeat charcoal and iron production in the Faeroe Islands 92
Chapter 10Anna Katrin Matras The Viking Settlement „Niðri á Toft”,Kvívík, Faroe Islands- a reanalysis 99
Chapter 11Marie Stoklund Faroese Runic Inscriptions109
Chapter 12James Graham-Campbell, University College London TheViking-Age Gold and Silver of the North Atlantic Region 125
Chapter 13Mark Blackburn Coinage and Contacts in the North Atlantic during the Seventh to Mid-Tenth Centuries 141
Chapter 14Gillian Fellows-Jensen Some new thoughts on personalnames in the Viking colonies 52
Chapter 15Ian Fisher Cross-currents in North Atlantic Sculpture160
Chapter 16Paul C. Buckland, Eva Panagiotakopulu Archaeology andthe Palaeoecology of the Norse Atlantic Islands: a Review 16
Chapter 17Else Roesdahl Walrus ivory – demand, supply, workshops,and Greenland 182
Chapter 18Þórgunnur Snædal Between Rök and Skagafjörður -Icelandic runes and their connection with the Scandinavianrunes of the Viking period  192
Chapter19Guðmundur Ólafsson New Evidence for the Dating ofIceland’s Settlement. A Viking-age discovery in thecave Víðgelmir  200
Chapter 20Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir The use of geothermal resourcesat Reykholt in Borgarfjörður in the medieval period 208
Chapter 21Anton Holt Gaulverjabæjarsjóðurinn217
Chapter 22Svavar Sigmundsson Icelandic place-names in North Atlantic light 229
Chapter 23Steffen Stummann HansenTHE POMPEJI OF ICELAND –and a small Scandinavian congress of archaeologists, whowere digging instead of eating dinners  234
Chapter 24Val Turner, Steve Dockeril, Julie BondViking Settlementin an IronAge Village: Old Scatness, Shetland 245
Chapter 25Doreen Waugh From Hermaness to Dunrossness: someShetland ness-names 250 Chapter 26 Peder Gammeltoft’Look now, stranger, at this island’. A brief survey of theisland-names of Shetland and Orkney   257
Chapter 27James H. Barrett Economic Intensification in Viking Ageand Medieval Orkney, Scotland: Excavations at Quoygrew 264
Chapter 28Andrew Jennings and Arne KruseAn Ethnic Enigma – Norse,Pict and Gael in the Western Isles 284
Chapter 29Olwyn Owen Scotland’s Viking ‘towns’: a contradiction in terms?297
Chapter 30Lesley Abrams Scandinavian Place-Names and Settlement-History: Flegg, Norfolk, and East Anglia in the Viking Age 307
Chapter 31John SheehanViking-age hoards in Scotland and Ireland:regional diversities 323
Chapter 32Stephen H. Harrison College Green – A Neglected ‘Viking’Cemetery at Dublin 329
Chapter 33Henrik Williams Name borrowing among the Vikings340
Chapter 34Jan BillKiloran bay revisited – confirmation of a doubtfulboat-grave 345
Chapter 35Ingvild Øye Farming and farming systems in Norse societiesof the North Atlantic 359
Chapter 36Lena Peterson Research report: Dictionary of proper namesin Scandinavian Viking Age runic inscriptions 371
Chapter 37Neil Price Cognition, Culture and Context: Observationson the ‘New’ Viking Archaeology       375
Chapter 38Birgitta Hårdh Uppåkra in the Viking Age383
Chapter 39Torsten Edgren Kyrksundet in Hitis, SW Finland. A Viking Age resting place and tradingpost on the sailing route to the East 392
Chapter 40Anne Pedersen The Metal Detector and the Viking Agein Denmark 402
Chapter 41Anne-Sofie Gräslund The watchful dragon. Aspectsof the Conversion of Scandinavia 412
Chapter 42Niels Lund Frisia – a Viking nest?422
Chapter 43Jayne Carroll Narrative and direct address in skaldic verse427
Chapter 44Howard B. Clarke ‘Go then South to Dublin; that is nowthe Most Praiseworthy Voyage.’ What would Brynjólfr’s Sonhave found there?  441