Medieval farm sites trenched in Mıvatnssveit

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Parent name: Mıvatn Landscapes Project

Project Details

Title:Medieval farm sites trenched in Mıvatnssveit
Abstract:This part of the Landscapes of Settlement project aims to do prelimiary trenching in several sites in the Mıvatn area to acquire dates for settlements, both their establishment and abandonment.
Project Start Year:2002

Account Owner

Contact: Fornleifastofnun Íslands
Postal Address: Bárugata 3, 101 Reykjavík, ICELAND
Post Code: 101
Telephone: 00354-5511033

Project Content

PDF File
Landscapes of settlement 2002 - Reports on investigations at five medieval sites in Mıvatnssveit [5.64 MB]
In 2002 a few medieval sites in Mıvatnssveit were trenched in connection with the Landscape of settlements project, with the aim gaining better understanding of how the settlement process evolved. Steinbogi was one of them, but had some structures excavated further due to road construction plans. The homefield boundary in Steinbogi was in use between 950 and 1158 and the farm was most likely abandoned before the 1158 tephra was deposited although some activity is visible after that. A substantial faunal collection was retrieved from a midden, showing an unusual pattern with sheep dominating cattle. It´s not least therefore interesting that a ruin excavated close to the planned road was interpreted as a sheephouse. The second place was Brenna where two parallel boundaries were excavated and both had fallen out of use before 1158. The midden seems to be well preserved. Oddastağir south of Sveigakot has homefield boundaries in use between 950-1158, af farm mound settled at the same time and some activity between 1158-1300. Furthermore activity is visible between 1477-1717, but according to written sources the place was inhabited for some time around 1680. The fourth place, Stöng, was most likely abandoned before 1300 and "viğ Víğiker", a small site, has a homefield boundary that collapsed before 1158. The abandonment of many of the sites can not obviously be explained by environmental factors so explanations must be seeked elsewhere.

PDF File
Archaeological investigations in Mıvatnssveit 2007 [4.84 MB]
Five trenches were excavated in Mıvatnssveit in 2007 to date sites suspected to be early: Beinisstağir, Geldingatættur, Litlu-Gautlönd, Şorleifsstağir, Selholt . Four of the sites trenched were dated to pre 1300 by tephra and some were obviously earlier. It can be maintained from combined results from trenching over the last years that a large number of farms was abandoned in Mıvatnssveit before 1300 and earlier in some cases. Furthermore some coring took place at modern farm sites to try and locate middens. All corings were successful but the midden in Skútustağir south of Mıvatn was chosen for further investigation.

PDF File
Archaeological investigations in Mıvatnssveit, Reykjadalur and Svartárkot 2010 [7.08 MB]
Although major excavations in Mıvatnssveit wound to a close in 2006 fieldwork has continued there every season since. The largest single component has been the midden excavation at Skútustağir from 2008 and in 2010 excavation of the Christian cemetery in Hofstağir resumed after a break of several years. In 2007 a number of sites were targeted for minor interventions both to identify midden deposits suitable for further investigation but also in order to obtain dating for the settlements. The results confirmed earlier indications that a very large number of farm sites in Mıvatnssveit were abandoned in the 12th and 13th centuries,3 but they also brought to light clear evidence of very early – pre ~940 – occupation of a surprisingly high number of sites. The fieldwork in 2010 was planned to follow up on these indications; to increase the sample size by obtaining dates from more sites in Mıvatnssveit and to extend the survey area by including sites in the upper reaches of Reykjadalur, which adjoins Mıvatnssveit on the western side. Seven sites, four in Mıvatnssveit and three in Reykjadalur were investigated by trenching but in addition Viking age dates were obtained for a boundary wall in Sellönd at the SE margins of Mıvatnssveit and a probable farm in Svartárkot. The latter site is in the highland interior some 27 km south of Lake Mıvatn and belongs to the district of Bárğardalur. It was targeted partly on rescue grounds, to assess the rate of erosion from lake Svartárvatn, but also to see if sufficient midden deposits remained for further investigation.

Project extent

The geographical extent of this project has not been defined.