Assembly sites

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Parent Project Details
Parent Project Title:Assembly sites
Sub Projects: Archaeolgocal excavations at the Law Ting Holm, Tingwall, Shetland, 2011

Project Details

Title:Assembly sites
Abstract:The project Assembly sites (Žinghald til forna) aims to revaluate all known assembly sites in Iceland, many of which had been mapped by antiquarians in the 19th and early 20th centuries . The purpose is to shed new light on the age, layout, and function of assemblies in early Icelandic society.
Project Start Year:2002

Account Owner

Contact: Fornleifastofnun Ķslands
Postal Address: Bįrugata 3, 101 Reykjavķk, ICELAND
Post Code: 101
Telephone: 00354-5511033

Project Content

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Žinghald til forna: Framvinduskżrsla 2002 [1.41 MB]
In 2002 new surface models were made of the following sites, using DGPS survey: Žorskafjaršaržing, Įrnesžing, Žingeyri in Dżrafjöršur and Valseyri in Dżrafjöršur. A large excavation project was started in Žingvellir and a new set of research questions introduced. The aim was f.ex. to see how extensive the assembly site is, to try and date some of the structures and to see if it is possible to identify which structures belong to the assembly itself and which don´t. Preliminary excavation was conducted in three places: a) the so called "Njįlsbśš". It was damaged due to waterflow and by a walking path. The structure could not be dated, no finds were retrieved and only few fragments of animal bones. A resistivity measurement showed a possible structure some 25 m west of Njįlsbśš. This shows that the assembly most likely stretches further to the south and booths may have disappeared into the wet soil. b) Test-pits were excavated where a bishops staff had been found in 1957 but proved difficult due to trees and roots. A structure with turf- and stone walls was found and seems to be shaped as a booth. c) Biskupshólar were trenched in five places, hitherto considered one large booth. Landnįm tephra (871 +/-2) was found in building turf. It seems that Biskupshólar had a group of booths rather than one large booth. The place was considered very promising for further research.

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Žinghald Aš Fornu - Fornleifarannsóknir 2003 [2.44 MB]
This year´s (2003) excavation was dedicated to the ruin area around Biskupshólar (Bishops hills) east of river Öxarį as earlier trenching had given good results. An area of about 130 m2 was opened in the northeastern part of the hills. The remains excavated consisted of numerous steone alignments and part s of stone faced turf walls, fragments of an as yet unknown number of temporary structures, each of which may have undergone numerous episodes of repair and reconstruction. Positive dating evidence was somewhat limited, but deposits excavated in this area are believed to date to the post-medieval period. A limited programme of soil core testing took place to determine if midden deposits with preserved organic remains were present in buried soils. No obvious evidence of dense midden accumulations were found although several zones with less dramatic scales of cultural debris were defined.

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Excavations at Žingvellir 2004: A Preliminary Report [1.92 MB]
Research in Biskupshólar, Žingvellir, was continued in 2004 by enlarging the area to the south. Fragments of several temporary structures were revealed, each of which may have undergone numerous episodes of repair and reconstruction. Positive dating evidence was limited but most artefacts are post-medieval. Open area excavation also commenced at Mišmundatśn - an area that has been the subject of tree plantation - of about 40 m2. The uppermost elements of a turf and stone construction were revealed, seemingly the part of a room or a building. These efforts are seen as merely scratching the surface of the archaeology in Žingvellir and raising more questions than answers. A surface model was made of the assembly site in ŽIngey, S-Žingeyjarsżsla using a DGPS station.

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Žingvellir og žinghald aš fornu - Framvinduskżrsla 2005 [1.19 MB]
In 2005 excavation was continued in Žingvellir. 1) A part of Mišmundatśn was surveyed with a ground penetrating radar to detect archaeological targets and two areas trenched, building on the survey results. A structure and a thick, charcoalrich layer was discovered in one trench but it remains unknown whether it belongs to the Thingvellir farm or the thingsite. 2) A part of Siguršur Vigfśssons trench from 1880 in the alleged Lögberg was reopened and remains reassessed. A part of a possible stonebuilt structure was found but the trench was too small to give definite results. It was proposed that the other part of the trench would be reopened in 2005. 3) A part of an old trench in Spöngin, east of Öxarį, was reopened, where a circular structure with an oblong ruin within can be seen on the surface. A part of a wall was found and the structures clearly postdate the landnįm tephra. Other dating evidence was not found. 4) An old trench in a small mound close to the alleged grave mound Žorleifshólmi was reopened where some bone remains and a silver coin had been found back in 1920. Remains of a structure were found, possibly a booth, postdating the Landnįm tephra. Furthermore a rare find, a fragment of hacksilver. Spring assembly sites were visitied: Žingeyrar, Krakalękjaržing, Lambanesžing. Finally, four trenches in Žingey, S-Žingeyjarsżsla, were excavated. A structure, possibly a booth, predating tephras from 1300 and 1477, was detected. Boundaries surrounding the site were excavated in three places but no tephras were found to seal them so accurate dating cannot be established at this point although they most likely date to the Middle Ages.

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Fornleifarannsóknir ķ S-Žingeyjarsżslu 2006 [1.55 MB]
This report contains results of investigations carried out in coopperation with Hiš žingeyska fornleifafélag (The Archaeological society in Žingeyjarsżsla) in 2006. 1. Excavation in Litlu-Nśpar continued. Three trenches were excavated. Two of them were dug into oblong ruins which both postdate the 950 tephra and had fallen out of use long before the 1477 tephra was deposited. Neither seems to be a dwelling. The third trench was in a smaller ruin, possibly still in use after a tephra from 1104/1158 was deposited. This was interpretded as a possible barn. 2) Investigations started in an alleged assembly site in Skuldažingsey, adjacant to another well known assembly site in Žingey, previously test trenched. Two fourths of a ruin, interpreted as a probable booth (temporary structure) were excavated. It postdates tephra from 950 AD but fell out of use long before 1477. 3) A survey was continued in the deserted valley of Žegjandadalur. 4) Boundaries in Narfastašir were trenched two places in connection with a project about an extensive system of medieval earthworks. One was dated to 871-1158 and another to 1300-1477.

Project extent

The geographical extent of this project has not been defined.