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Viking Congress 2009 – Reykjavik and Reykholt, Iceland

Date:

17th  – 23rd August.

Themes:

Viking Age Iceland; Viking Settlements and Viking Society; Sickness,

Death and Belief in the Viking Age; Memories and Viking Identities.

Patron:

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland.

Organising Committee:

Anton Holt, Central Bank of Iceland

Gísli Sigurðsson, the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Guðmundur Ólafsson, National Museum of Iceland

Orri Vésteinsson, University of Iceland

Svavar Sigmundsson, the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Managing director: Þóra Pétursdóttir

Student assistants: Ásta Hermannsdóttir, Jakob Orri Jónsson,

Katrín Dröfn Guðmundsdóttir, Margrét Sigvaldadóttir, Sigrún Antonsdóttir

National Representatives:

Denmark: Else Roesdahl and Niels Lund.

England: Judith Jesch and Richard Hall.

Faroe Islands: Símun Arge and Eivind Weyhe.

Greenland: Claus Andreasen and Georg Nygaard

Iceland: Guðmundur Ólafsson and Svavar Sigmundsson.

Ireland: John Sheehan and Patrick Wallace.

Norway: Else Mundal and Dagfinn Skre.

Scotland: Doreen Waugh and Olwyn Owen.

Sweden: Anne-Sofie Gräslund and Henrik Williams.

Wales: John Hines.

Honorary members of the Congress:

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland

Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Education and Culture

Bergur Þorgeirsson, Director of Snorrastofa

Guðný Gerður Gunnarsdóttir, Director of the Reykjavik City Museum

Guðrún Nordal, Director of the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies.

Jónas Kristjánsson, Director emeritus of The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Kristín Ingólfsdóttir, Rector of the University of Iceland

Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, Director of the Archaeological Heritage Agency

Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir, Director of the National Museum

Ólafur Halldórsson, Member of the 3rd Viking Congress

Vésteinn Ólason, Director emeritus of The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Þór Magnússon, Director emeritus of the National Museum

Public speakers at the Congress:

Birgitta Wallace, Parks Canada

Else Roesdahl, University of Aarhus

James Graham-Campbell, University College London

Przemyslaw Urbanczyk, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw

Thomas McGovern, Hunter College, CUNY, New York

Delegates of the Congress:

Denmark

Andres S. Dobat: Aarhus University/Moesgård Museum

Claus Feveile: Antikvarisk Samling Ribe Sydvestjyske Museer

Else Roesdahl: Aarhus University, Middelalder- og Renæssancarkæologi

Eva Andersson Strand: Centre for Textile Research, SAXO institute, University of Copenhagen

Lasse Sonne: University of Copenhagen

Lisbeth Imer: National Museum of Denmark, Runologi

Silke Eisenschmidt: Museum Sønderjylland-Arkæologi, Haderslev

Søren Sindbæk: University of York

Unn Pedersen: Aarhus University, section for Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology

England

Christina Lee: University of Nottingham, School of English Studies

Christopher Callow: Dept. of Medieval History, University of Birmingham

David Griffiths: Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford

Dawn Hadley: Dept. of Archaeology, University of Sheffield

Gareth Williams: The British Museum

James Graham-Campbell: Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Jane Kershaw: Institute of Archaeology University of Oxford

Judith Jesch: University of Nottingham, School of English Studies

Lesley Abrams: Balliol College, Oxford

Marjolein Stern: University of Nottingham, School of English Studies

Mark Blackburn: Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

Richard Hall: York Archaeological Trust

Iceland

Adolf Friðriksson: Institute of Archaeology

Anton Holt: Central Bank of Iceland

Elisabeth Ward: University of California, Berkeley

Gavin Lucas: University of Iceland

Gísli Sigurðsson: The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Guðmundur Ólafsson: National Museum of Iceland

Guðný Zoёga: Skagafjörður Heritage Museum

Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir: Snorrastofa & Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Gunnar Karlsson: University of Iceland

Haki Antonsson: University College London

Helgi Þorláksson: Historical Institute, University of Iceland

Hildur Gestsdóttir: University of Iceland

Jesse Byock: UCLA Mosfell Archaeological Project

Ragnheiður Traustadóttir: Háskólinn á Hólum

Rúnar Leifsson: University of Iceland

Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir: University of Iceland/National Museum of Iceland

Svavar Sigmundsson: The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies

Vala Garðarsdóttir: University of Iceland

Þórgunnur Snædal: Swedish National Heritage Board

Ireland

Donnchadh O’Corrain: University College Cork

John Sheehan: University of Cork, Dept. of Archaeology

Máire Ní Mhaonaigh: University of Cambridge, Dept. of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and  Celtic

Patrick F. Wallace: National Museum of Ireland

Ruth Johnson: Dublin City Council

Schleswig-Holstein

Joachim Schultze: Archäologisches Landesmuseum

Sven Kalmring: Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, Schloss Gottorf

Volker Hilberg: Archäologisches Landesmuseum

Faroe Islands

Helgi Michelsen: Føroya Fornminnissavn

Símun Vilhelm Arge: Føroya Fornminnissavn

Greenland

Jette Arneborg: National Museum of Denmark

Mogens Skaaning Høegsberg: Aarhus University, Middelalder- og Renæssancearkæologi

Poul Baltzer Heide: Aarhus University, Middelalder- og Renæssancearkæologi

Sarah Croix: Aarhus University, Middelalder- og Renæssancearkæologi

Norway

Anne Pedersen: National Museum of Denmark

Dagfinn Skre: Universitetet i Oslo, IAKH

Else Mundal: Universitetet i Bergen CMS

Frans-Arne Stylegar: Fylkeskonservator i Vest-Agder

Frode Iversen: Kulturhistorisk Museum, Oslo

Ingvild Øye: Universitetet i Bergen, Inst. For arkeologi, historie, kultur- og religionsvitskap

James Knirk: Kulturhistorisk Museum, Oslo

Jón Viðar Sigurðsson: Universitetet i Oslo, IAKH

Svein Harald Gullbekk: Kulturhistorisk Museum Oslo

Sæbjørg Walaker Nordeide: Universitetet i Bergen, CMS

Scotland

Arne Kruse: University of Edinburgh, Scandinavian Studies

Barbara Crawford: Strathmartine Trust

Clare Downham: University of Aberdeen, School of Language and Literature

Colleen Batey: University of Glasgow, Dept. of Archaeology

Elizabeth Pierce: University of Glasgow, Dept. of Archaeology

Erin-Lee McGuire: University of Glasgow, Dept. of Archaeology

Julie Bond: University of Bradford, Dept. of Archaeological Sciences

Kevin Edwards: University of Aberdeen, Dept. of Geography and Environment

Neil Price: University of Aberdeen, Dept. of Archaeology

Olwyn Owen: Historic Scotland

Sweden

Anne-Sofie Gräslund: Dept. of Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University

Birgitta Hårdh: Dept. of Archaeology, Lund University

Daniel Sävborg: Dept. of Scandinavian Languages, Uppsala University

Kenneth Jonsson: Stockholm Numismatic Institute

Staffan Fridell: Institutionen för nordiska språk, Uppsala

Torun Zachrisson: Archaeology & Classical Studies, Stockholm

Wales

Alan Lane: Cardiff University, Wales

John Hines: School of History and Archaeology, Cardiff

Nancy Edwards: Bangor University, Wales

Excursions:

Reykjavík, Reykjanes peninsula, Borgarfjörður, Dalir and Snæfellsnes.

Post Congress tour to North Iceland.

Sponsors:

Ministry of Educationand Culture, University of Iceland, National Museum of Iceland,

The Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, The Archaeological Heritage Agency,

Nordisk kulturfond, Snorrastofa, Clara Lachmanns fond, Letterstedska föreningen,

City of Reykjavík, Minjasafn Reykjavíkur, Vífilfell, Danmarks Ambassade, Reykjavík,

Norges Ambassade, Reykjavík, Sveriges Ambassad, Reykjavík, Minjasafnið á Akureyri,

Glaumbær, Centrum Hotel Reykjavík.

Congress programme

August 16 – Sunday

15:00-18:00Congress documents delivered in the National Museum
17:00-18:00  Reception at the National Museum.Welcome by Guðný Helgadóttir, Ministry of Education and Culture andMargrét Hallgrímsdóttir Director of the National Museum of Iceland
20:00   Public lecture in the University of Iceland, Hátíðarsalur, main building:Birgitta Wallace, archaeologist emeritus, Parks Canada: L’Anse aux Meadows: Different Disciplines, Divergent Views

Day 1 August 17 – Monday

Theme 1: Viking Settlements and Viking Society

09:00-09:15Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland: Opening of the Congress
Session 1:Chair: Guðmundur Ólafsson
09:15-10:30 Christopher Callow: Landnámabók and territorial organisation in IcelandAnne Pedersen: Jelling and the Jelling ProjectKevin Edwards: Is there a Norse ‘footprint’ in the North Atlantic pollen record? Discussion
Session 2:Chair: Jette Arneborg
10:50-12:00 David Griffiths: Landscapes of power in northern and western BritainNancy Edwards: Viking Age Settlement and Society in North-West Wales:the Sculptural EvidenceAndres S. Dobat: Danevirke revisited -or- how powerful were the Viking Age kings? Discussion 
12:10-13:00Public lecture in Háskólatorg, lecture hall 102 – University of Iceland:Else Roesdahl, professor in Medieval Archaeology in Aarhus, Denmark: Scandinavia in the Melting Pot, c. 950-1000
Session 3:Chair: Kevin Edwards
14:00–15:30 Gareth Williams: My cup runneth over.Julie Bond: Excavations at Hamar and Underhoull, Unst, ShetlandMark Blackburn: Torksey: Finds from the Viking wintercamp of 872/3Richard Hall: New Discoveries in Viking Age York Discussion
Session 4:Chair: Jón Viðar Sigurðsson
16:00-17:30 Frode Iversen: Bona patrimonium and bona regalia. Royal manors in Scandinavia in the Viking AgeClaus Feveile: How can we define a manor from archaeological sources? A case study near Ribe, DenmarkDagfinn Skre: Kaupang – Where did the settlers come from?Barbara Crawford: The ‘stofa’; a colonial feature of North Atlantic society Discussion 
17:40Buses leave for Bessastaðir from the University of Iceland
18:00-19:00Reception by the President of Iceland, at Bessastaðir

Day 2 August 18 – Tuesday

Theme 1: Viking Settlements and Viking Society

Session 5:Chair: Else Roesdahl
09:00-10:30 Joachim Schultze: Aspects of the settlement structure and house construction in HedebyEva Andersson Strand: Textile Production in Hedeby and BirkaSven Kalmring: The harbour of HedebyVolker Hilberg: Hedeby’s fall and Slesvig’s rise – continuities and changes in the 11th century Discussion
Session 6:Chair: Helgi Þorláksson
10:50-12:00 Frans-Arne Stylegar: Dendrochronology and Viking ships in Norway – new evidenceIngvild Øye: Settlements and agrarian landscapes – chronological issues and archaeological challenges. Norwegian casesLesley Abrams: Monumental Identity: the hogback in the British Isles Discussion 
12:10-13:00 Public lecture in Háskólatorg, lecture hall 102 – University of Iceland: Przemyslaw Urbanczyk, professor in archaeology, Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw: Formation of the Icelandic identity viewed with the help of archaeological evidence Congress council meeting 
14:00-17:00 Excursion to ReykjanesKrýsuvík – Geothermal areaHúshólmi – Viking Age farm site. The Archaeological Heritage Agency
19:30-21:00 Reception at the Settlement Exhibition: 871 ±2. Welcome by Guðný Gerður Gunnarsdóttir, director of Reykjavik City Museum

Day 3 August 19 – Wednesday

Theme 1: Viking Settlements and Viking Society

Session 7:Chair: Richard Hall
09:00-10:30 Clare Downham: Viking memory in the Scottish Statistical AccountsSøren Sindbæk: Innovation and social networks in Viking period townsTorun Zachrison: The Archaeology of RimbertBirgitta Hårdh: Uppåkra and Lund. A central place and a town Discussion
Session 8:Chair: Anton Holt
10:50-12:00 John Sheehan: Weighty matters: silver wealth distribution in Viking Age IrelandKenneth Jonsson: Coin circulation on Iceland and the North AtlanticSvein Harald Gullbekk: Money and its use in the saga society Discussion 
12:10-13:00 Public lecture in Háskólatorg – University of Iceland: James Graham-Campbell, emeritus professor of Medieval Archaeology, University College London: ‘The dragon’s bed’: Gold and Silver in Viking-Age Iceland – and Beyond

Theme 2: Viking Age Iceland

Session 9:Chair: Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir
14:00-15:30 Jón Viðar Sigurðsson: The Free State Constitution and dispute settlementJesse Byock: The Longhouse at Hrísbrú in MosfellsdalurHaki Antonsson: Memories of the Conversion: Missionary Saints and the Christianization of ScandinaviaGuðrún Nordal: The meaning of the settlement stories in the sagas of Icelanders Discussion 
16:00-17:00Visit to the Manuscript exhibition in the Culture house.
17:00-18:00 Reception at the Numismatic collection of the Central Bank of Iceland and the National Museum

Day 4 August 20 – Thursday

Tour to Reykholt

08:00-Departure from Reykjavik.
08:30-09:30Þingnes by Elliðavatn. Viking assembly site
10:00-11:00Hrísbrú in Mosfellsdalur. Viking age site
11:30-14:00Þingvellir. National assembly site
14:00-15:30Húsafell
16:00-17:30Surtshellir cave. Viking age outlaw shelter
18:00-19:00Hraunfossar. Waterfalls
19.30Reykholt

Day 5 August 21 – Friday

Theme 2: Viking Age Iceland

Session 10:Chair: Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir
09:00-10:30 Helgi Þorláksson: A seat of a settler? – A centre of a magnate. Breiðabólstaðr and ReykholtGuðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir: The Reykholt shieling project: some preliminary resultsGavin Lucas: Excavations at HofstaðirColleen Batey: Hofstadir: can its status be determined by the artefacts? Discussion

Theme 3: Sickness, Death and Belief in the Viking Age – Parallel sessions

Session 11A:Chair: Ingvild Øye
10:50-12:00 Sæbjørg Walaker Nordeide: Where did all the people go? Looking for burials from the 11th centuryDawn Hadley: Protecting the dead in Viking-Age EnglandSilke Eisenschmidt: The graves from Hedeby Discussion
Session 11B:Chair: Judith Jesch
10:50-12:00 Else Mundal: Death as omen in Sagas of IcelandersDaniel Sävborg: Haugbúar, haugbrot and sagasChristina Lee: Sickness and society in Old Icelandic sources Discussion 
12:10-13:00 Public lecture: Thomas McGovern, professor, Hunter College, CUNY, New York: Vikings in the International Polar Year: bloodthirsty, sustainable, and educational
Session 12:Chair: Adolf Friðriksson
Theme 4:Memories and Viking Identities
14:00-15:30 Donnchadh O’Corrain: Irish annals and ON texts: examplesJohn Hines: Raiding and Trade along the Bristol Channel in the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh CenturiesMáire Ní Mhaonaigh: What Vikings became: the transformation of Vikings in Medieval Irish Literary TextsNeil Price: Pirates of the Atlantic: revolution and resistance in the Viking Age Discussion
Session 13:Chair: Olwyn Owen. Mixed themes
16:00-17:30 Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir: The Vikings as a Diaspora – Cultural and Religious Identities in Early Medieval IcelandStaffan Fridell: Graphic variation and change in the younger futharkJames Knirk: The Viðey rune-stick: Iceland’s earliest runic inscriptionÞórgunnur Snædal: What kind of name is Jafnakollr? A newly found runic inscription in Sweden and a by-name in Landnámabók  Discussion 
17:30-18:30Reykholt – historic walk: Geir Waage and Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir

Day 6 August 22 – Saturday

Tour to Snæfellsnes

09:00-11:00Eiríksstaðir. Viking age farm site and reconstructed hall
11:00-14:00Bus to Stykkishólmur
14:00-16:00Boat trip on Breiðafjörður
16:00-18:00Borg – Reykholt
18:00-19:30Congress Council Meeting
20:00-Congress dinner

Day 7 August 23 – Sunday

Mixed themes

Session 14:Chair: John Sheehan
10:00-11:30 Anne-Sofie Gräslund: Similarities or Differences – Reflections on Viking IdentityMogens Skaaning Høegsberg: Indications of identity? The cultural identity of the Greenland NorseLisbeth Imer: Ave Maria – Christian runic inscriptions from Greenland Discussion
Session 15:Chair: Colleen Batey
11:50-13:30 Olwyn Owen: Norse influence at Govan on the Firth of ClydeGunnar Karlsson: Love in Early IcelandJudith Jesch: The Norse Gods in EnglandAdolf Friðriksson: Viking Archaeology in Iceland – Another Half Century DiscussionInvitation to the next congress/End of Congress 
15:00Bus leaves for Reykjavík
16:30-17:30Bus to hotels in Reykjavík or Keflavík

Post-Congress tour to North Iceland

15:00Bus leaves for Post-Congress tour
17:30-18:30Borgarvirki. Natural hillfort, Viking age remains
20:00Hólar í Hjaltadalur

Day 1 August 24 – Monday. Skagafjörður

10:00-11:00Hegranes. Medieval assembly site
11:00-12:00Keldudalur, archaeological site
12:00-12:30Víðimýri. Small turf church
12:30-15:00 Glaumbær. Large turf farm – Archaeological site. Welcome by Guðný Zoëga from the Skagafjörður Museum
15:00-16:30Kolkuós. Medieval harbour
16:30-19:00Hofstaðir, Hólar Archaeological site, and Auðunarstofa

Day 2 August 25 – Tuesday. Eyjafjörður

08:00-09:00Breakfast
09:00-10:00Möðruvellir in Hörgárdalur
10:00-12:00Gásir. Medieval trading place
12:00-14:00Akureyri and Akureyri City Museum
14:00-15:00Laufás
15:00-16:00Goðafoss
16:00-18:00Hofstaðir. Viking/Early medieval site
18:00-19:00Narfastaðir in Reykjadalur – Dinner
20:00Mývatn geothermal baths

Day 3 August 26 – Wednesday. Mývatnssveit

09:00-10:00Námaskarð. Geothermal area
10:00-12:30Dimmuborgir. Lava formations/Höfði
12:30-14:00Þverá í Laxárdal. Old turfhouse farm
14:00-15:00Grenjaðarstaður. Old turfhouse farm
15:00-17:00Bus to Akureyri
17:00-18:00Dinner – BBQ garden party in Akureyri. End of Post Congress tour
18:00-24:00Bus to Reykjavík or
18:00-19:00Flight to Reykjavík
24:00-01:00Bus to hotels in Reykjavík or Keflavik

Notes:

Minutes of the Viking Congress Council meeting at Reykholt,
August 23. 2009


Present were: Judith Jesch and Richard Hall from England, Else Roesdahl and Anne Pedersen from Denmark, Anne-Sofie Gräslund from Sweden, Else Mundal from Norway, Jette Arneborg from Greenland, Colleen Batey and Olwyn Owen from Scotland, John Sheehan from Ireland, John Hines from Wales, Guðmundur Ólafsson and Gísli Sigurðsson from Iceland.

Guðmundur chaired the meeting and led the discussion of the organization of the Viking congress as described in a document that was circulated on December 3rd 2008 and had been presented and discussed at previous meetings. The first 6 chapters were accepted as a truthful description of the congress until now and the remaining paragraphs were passed in the attached form as a base for the next congress.

Some discussion was on if the congress should open up to other countries and a larger group of people but it was agreed to continue with similar limitations but national representatives and congress organizers were urged to use their present external quotas to invite scholars from other countries. It was left to the individual national committees to select their representatives as they see fit with an emphasis on the multidisciplinary nature of Viking studies.

Else presented a letter, which suggested a joint conference with the Saxon symposium. The council did not approve of this suggestion and Else was asked to write back, informing of this decision.

Finally the council accepted an invitation from the Shetlands, presented by Olwyn Owen, to host the next Viking Congress in 2013.

Gísli Sigurðsson, secretary

Congress Diary:

Many members of the Viking Congress gathered outside th University of Iceland.

Delegates arrived in Reykjavík on Sunday, August 16th 2009. At 17:00 they were welcomed by Guðný Helgadóttir, from the Ministry of culture and education, and Margrét Hallgrímsdóttir, director of the National Museum, in a reception at the National Museum of Iceland. Following the reception, at 20:00, Birgitta Wallace, archaeologist emeritus at Parks Canada, opened the congress by giving the first lecture in the University’s Main building. The lecture, on L’Anse aux Meadows research project, was the first of five public lectures and was well attended.

Members of the Viking Congress in the lecture hall at the University of Iceland.

Formal proceedings began early the following morning, August 17th, with a formal opening speech by Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland and Patron of the 16th Viking Congress. This was followed by a busy day of lectures on the theme “Settlements and Viking Society”. At 12:00 Else Roesdahl, professor in Medieval Archaeology at Aarhus University, gave the second public lecture, entitled “Scandinavia in the Melting Pot, c. 950-1000”.

Patrick Wallace thanking Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson for inviting the Viking Congress to Bessastaðir.

The first day was closed with a reception at Bessastaðir, the presidential residency, hosted by Mr. Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. The President gave a talk, welcoming the guests, and before leaving Patrick Wallace said a few words and thanked the President on behalf of the congress delegates. When back in central Reykjavík many of the participants proceded with the social program at the congress bars, Fjalakötturinn and Uppsalir.

Viking Congress members had
mixed feelings about the smell of
the pure geothermal air at Seltún.

On Tuesday morning papers were still devoted to the first theme of “Settlements and Viking Society”. At noon Przemyslaw Urbanczyk, professor of archaeology at the Polish Academy of Science in Warsaw gave a public lecture on the formation of an Icelandic identity based on archaeological information. After lunch at the University’s canteen Háma, and a hasty group-photo opportunity, two buses left for an excursion to Krýsuvík and Húshólmi south of the capital.

The first stop was at the Seltún geothermal area in Krýsuvík, where participants enjoyed the smell of sulphur and spectacular scenery of boiling water and mud springs. From Seltún the the journey continued on decent roads for a few kilometres when suddenly the buses proceded onto a narrow mud track leading, along the edge of the lavafield, towards the southern shoreline in the distance. For a critical hour, or so, it was uncertain whether or not all participants, or in fact the buses, would make it to the end.

The long walk on the old road through the Ögmundarhraun lavafield was a challenge.

Beyond all hope, however, after several incidents, both buses succeded and participants were welcomed by Agnes Stefánsdóttir, from the Archaeological Heritage Agency of Iceland, who escorted the parade into the lavafield towards Húshólmi. After a refreshing walk through the rough lava in the authentic weather of the south coast, participants were rewarded with a warm welcome and refreshments, in the form of fermented shark and Icelandic brennivín, by Kristín Huld Sigurðardóttir, Kristinn Magnússon and Gunnar Bollason, at the AHA’s mobile bar. While enjoying the traditional delicacies, Agnes explained the archaeology and nature of the buildings in the lavafield at this Viking age site.

The Viking age ruins in the middle
of the lavafield were the reward
for a long walk.

From Húshólmi the drivers again managed the impossible and the whole group was delivered safely to the Reykjavík 871±2 Museum in central Reykjavík, where the Reykjavík City Museum hosted a reception. A welcoming talk was given by Guðný Gerður Gunnarsdóttir, director of the Reykjavík City Museum, and after enjoying the museum’s outstanding exhibition James Knirk thanked her and her staff for the wonderful reception on behalf of the guests. Afterwards many of the participants continued socializing at the congress bar conveniently located above the museum.


Enjoyable break at Húshólmi, hosted by the Archaeological Heritage Agency.

Wednesday, August 19th, was a day fully packed with lectures starting early in the morning. Before lunch break lectures were devoted to the theme “Settlements and Viking Society”, while after lunch to the theme of “Viking Age Iceland”. At noon James Graham-Campbell, professor emeritus of Medieval Archaeology at University College London, gave a public lecture on silver hoards from Viking Age Iceland. Lectures went on until 15:30 in the afternoon when the social program took over and delegates attended the Manuscript exhibition in the Culture House, guided by Gísli Sigurðsson. After an interesting visit the street was crossed to attend a reception at the Central Bank of Iceland,and The National Museum’s Numismatic Collection. Anton Holt, curator at the banks’ collection, welcomed the guests who then could look through the collection while enjoying the refreshments kindly (but ironically) provided by the bank. Again the socializing proceded at the congress bar into the night.

Jesse Byock in the large excavated Viking age hall at Hrísbrú.

On the fourth day, Thursday August 20th, the congress moved its venue from the capital of Reykjavík to the medieval centre of Reykholt, home to chieftain and writer Snorri Sturluson. After being loaded with luggage, food and other Viking-necessities the buses left Reykjavík early in the morning. The first stop on the way was made in the outskirts of the city, at Þingnes by lake Elliðavatn, perhaps the earliest assembly site in Iceland.

After Guðmundur Ólafsson had explained the site, the buses stopped at Hrísbrú in Mosfellsdalur, where Jesse Byock described the Viking-age site and explained the Mosfell project.

Einar Sæmundsen lectures the Congress by the Law rock at Þingvellir assembly site.

At Þingvellir the Congress was welcomed by Einar Á. E. Sæmundsen, the interpretive officer of the National Park, who gave a presentation and an excellent guided tour of the World Heritage Site.

Eager delegates of the Viking Congress disappear into the deep dark Surtshellir cave.

From Þingvellir the tour went on over a rocky mountain road to the Surtshellir cave, where surprisingly many dare-devils followed, at their own risk (!), Guðmundur Ólafsson in a truly adventurous trip deep into the lava cave, to see the unique Viking Age remains. Fortunately, despite a few close calls, no one got seriously injured.

Houseruin and pile of bones at the Viking age outlaw shelter in the Surtshellir cave.
Svein H. Gullbekk, Mark Blackburn and Kenneth Jonson at the Barnafoss waterfall.

Finally the buses stopped at the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls before entering Reykholt. After a chaotic and at times almost fatally stressful checking inn at the hotel all participants were privileged with a bed to sleep in, and the formal program could proceed.

The lecture hall in Reykholt.

Friday the 21st was filled with lectures all day, devoted to all themes. At noon, Thomas McGovern, professor at Hunter College, CUNY, New York, gave a public lecture about Vikings in the International Polar Year: bloodthirsty, sustainable and educational.

Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir with the Congress on top of the excavated farmmound in Reykholt.

After the day’s sessions Guðrún Sveinbjarnardóttir gave a tour of the archaeological site of Reykholt and The Rev. Geir Waage gave an insight into the history of Reykholt. In the exhibition locales under the church.

Rev. Geir Waage vith the Viking Congress in the old Church of Reykholt.
Bergur Þorgeirsson welcomes the Viking Congress to Snorrastofa.

Bergur Þorgeirsson, director of Snorrastofa, introduced Snorrastofa to the Congress while delegates enjoyed red and white wine generously donated by the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish embassies – and other Viking beverages. Afterwards the Reykholt Church choir gave a most memorable concert in the Reykholt church.

After a lovely dinner at the Reykholt hotel restaurant the socializing continued at the hotel bar (and not in Snorralaug) into the night.

The Viking Congress at Snorri’s pool in Reykholt.

On Saturday the 22nd the Congress went on a Saga trail to Snæfellsnes peninsula and Breiðafjörður fjord. The first stop was at Eiríksstaðir, where the archaeology of the site and the reconstructed hall of Eirikur the Red’s farm were explained by Sigurður Hrafn Jökulsson, the keeper of the site, and Guðmundur Ólafsson.

Guðmundur Ólafsson and Sigurður H. Jökulsson outside the reconstructed farm at Eiríksstaðir. (Foto Else Roesdahl).
In the reconstructed Viking age hall at Eiríksstaðir.
The Viking Congress gathered by the ruin of the Viking age hall. A statue of young Leifur Eiriksson in the foreground.

On the bus, driving through the Saga landscapes between stops, congress members were entertained with appropriate passages from the Sagas read by a carefully selected group of readers. After lunch at Hotel Stykkishólmur, the congress delegates had the opportunity to walk around the town during the interesting local festival of “Danish Days” until it was time to board the boat for a trip around Breiðafjörður fjord, noted for its rich bird life, beautiful rock formations and many historical sites. Delicious seafood was hauled in and, in contrast to national tradition, enjoyed fresh with a glass of good wine.

Members of the Viking Congress eagerly taste the fresh catch of seafood on board.

On the journey back towards Reykholt a short stop was made at Borg, where John Hines read Egill Skallagrímsson´s poem Sonatorrek.

At the farm Borg, John Hines cites the poem Sonatorrek by the large sculpture bearing the same name.

Back in Reykholt the Congress Council met for a second brief meeting to discuss the draft version for the Organisation of the Congress as well as accepting an invitation from Scotland to host the next congress.

The Congress Dinner, enjoyed at the Reykholt hotel restaurant, included several surprise performances and talks. Afterwards all delegates, as well as the staff of Snorrastofa and Reykholt church, were invited to a Viking-party at the old school building where they once again enjoyed surprising amounts of Viking brew in cans and bottles, now well familiar to all delegates. After discussing the matter of bathing with The Rev. Geir Waage a joint verdict was that bathing in Snorri’s laug was “not allowed – but not forbidden”. Socializing thus continued at various locations on the Reykholt manor into the night and early morning.

Sunday 23rd, the last day of the Congress continued with presentations, under mixed themes, until lunchtime. After a common lunch the Congress ended with a formal invitation by Olwyn Owen to the next Viking Congress in Shetland in 2013.

At 14.00 most Congress delegates went back to Reykjavik, while a brave flock of some 30 people, equipped with a still surprising amount of Viking brew, took the Post Congress Tour bus to North Iceland.  After a stop at the natural hill forth of Borgarvirki, the group got a well deserved rest at Hólar in Hjaltadalur, bishopric of Northern Iceland.

Else Roesdahl, John Sheehan and James Graham-Campbell heading for the Borgarvirki hillforth.

On the following morning the flock awoke to heavy rain and dark skies at Hólar. A few brave souls, despite this, began the day with a horribly cold bath in the Holar swimming pool. After referring with the guides of the day, Ragnheiður Traustadóttir, director of the Hólar Archaeological Project, archaeologist Jennica Einebrant Svensson and Guðný Zoёga, head of the Archaeological department of the Skagafjörður Museum, the programme was rearranged and the result was that all sites were visited in good and dry weather.

The old local assembly at Hegranes, and the Keldudalur site were visited under the guidance of Ragnheiður, Jennica and Guðný. At Víðimýri turf church Einar Örn Einarsson, keeper of the church, showed the group around and after a lovely lunch at Áskaffi in Glaumbær, the group was welcomed to the Glaumbær museum by Guðný Zoёga on behalf of Museum director Sigríður Sigurðardóttir.

Ragnheiður Traustadóttir in the medieval byre, excavated at Keldudalur.

In the afternoon Ragnheiður lead the group to the medieval harbour at Kolkuós, the reconstructed medieval Auðunarstofa and the archaeological sites at Hólar as well as the Viking age remains at Hof in Hjaltadalur. After dinner many spent the evening at the archaeological lab at Hólar. Some explored the turf house farm at Hólar, with torches, and experienced the darkness in these old dwelling houses.

Guðný Zoëga in front of the Glaumbær turfhouse farm points out the Viking age farm-site.
The Post Congress tour at the medieval harbor at Kolkuós. The eroded excavation site is in the background.
Þóra Pétursdóttir prepares the group for a tour at Gásir, the medieval harbor site

On the 25th the tour went on to Eyjafjörður. A first stop was made at the medieval monastery site Möðruvellir where Professor Bjarni E. Guðleifsson welcomed the group in the Möðruvellir church and introduced it to the history of the farm and manor.

After enjoying coffee and “kleinur” at the old Möðruvellir theatre the journey continued to the medieval harbour at Gásir where Þóra Pétursdóttir explained the site and the Gásir excavation project.

At Laufás turfhouse farm, repairs of an old turf wall could be seen.

Haraldur Þór Egilsson, director of the Akureyri Museum, welcomed the group to the Akureyri city Museum. After a picnic lunch in the Museum garden Haraldur introduced the museum exhibitions. Before leaving Akureyri the group had a quick stroll through the town centre. From Akureyri the bus headed for Mývatnssveit with a short stop at the old Laufás turf house farm and Goðafoss waterfall.

John Hines and Torun Zachrisson in an intense discussion at the Goðafoss waterfall.

At Hofstaðir Adolf Friðriksson presented the excavations of the large Viking age hall, pit house and other remains at the site.

Adolf Friðriksson points out the large pithouse at Hofstaðir in Mývatnssveit, accompanied by some Congress delegates and large swarms of flies.

After a fantastic dinner buffet dinner at Narfastaðir guesthouse in Reykjadalur, many participants went for a visit to the geothermal baths in Mývatnssveit to relax their weary bones. Some wished they could have stayed there longer…perhaps forever.

An energetic group made it all the way to the Elf-church in Dimmuborgir.

On Wednesday August 26th, the last day of the Post Congress Tour, the unusual and dramatic lava formations at Dimmuborgir and the smelly geothermal area at Námaskarð were visited.

Daniel Sävborg and James Graham-Campbell study a steaming pile of stones at Námaskarð.

Leaving the Mývatnssveit area the tour headed towards Laxárdalur through the Hólasandur sand desert where the beautiful old turf house farm at Þverá in Laxárdalur, with the indoor creek, was inspected.

The farmer Áskell Jónasson and Þóra Pétursdóttir in frornt of the old farm at Þverá in Laxárdalur.
Part of the small fresh water creek that runs through the turfhouse farm at Þverá, for cooling the milk in the dairy.
A beautifully proportioned and well built gable of one of the turfhouses at Þverá.
Else Roesdahl and Mark Blackburn discover an old gravestone with runic inscription at Grenjaðarstaður.

After a short stop at Grenjaðarstaður turf farm the group headed back to Akureyri where the Post Congress Tour came to a formal end with a garden party and BBQ at Þóra’s in-laws’.

Exhausted but happy delegates at the end of the Post Congress Tour in Akureyri.

Some took the plane back to Reykjavík, while most of the participants went with the bus and arrived in the capital around midnight. Many even got a few hours sleep before catching the flight early in the morning, bringing them back to “normal life”.

Með góðum kveðjum frá Íslandi!

Anton Holt

Gísli Sigurðsson

Guðmundur Ólafsson

Svavar Sigmundsson

Þóra Pétursdóttir

Congress Proceedings: 

All Congress speakers are invited to remit a manuscript for The Proceedings of the 16th Viking Congress. Manuscripts should be delivered by the end of December 2009. The manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and selected papers will be published. Each article can be up to 10 pages in length, inclusive of illustrations. Public speakers will be given up to 15-20 pages.

The aim is to publish the Proceedings of the Congress at the end of 2010 or in early 2011. Citations and references shall be used according to the APA-style, 5th edition. Information about the APA-style is available on the Internet, such as: http://www.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citapa.htm

All manuscripts (and questions) shall be sent to Svavar Sigmundsson (svavar@hi.is).