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Project Details

Abstract:The project\'s overall aims encompass a full investigation and presentation of the latter centuries (17th-19th) of settlement at Skálholt, as it was prior to its abandonment after an earthquake in 1784 and at the height of its cultural influence in Iceland. The main focus of excavation is on the core of the settlement: The school, student\'s rooms, Bishop\'s rooms and other associated staff and ancillary rooms.
Project Start Year:2002
Projected End Year:2006

Account Owner

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

Project Content

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Skáholt 2002: Interim Report No. 1 [2.02 MB]
Excavation occurred in two areas in 2002: In the NE-part of the farm mound, right south of the church and in a small mound, called Kyndluhóll (Torch mound) west of the farm mound. Kyndluhóll is not a well stratified midden as hoped for but consists rather of structural elements, turf collapse and ash dumps. The nature of the mound is still not clear - perhaps it is formed by rebuilt animal shelters. In the farm mound excavation this year began in the area of the school rooms and dormitory, based on an 18th century map. A part of that area had been heavily truncated by a haybarn built in 1902 and the truncation was emptied using a mechanical excavator. Six phases were identified, from modern down to pre c. 1730. Some of the buildings (dormitory, library, bishop´s room) had been heavily used as animal byres after the earhquake. A large quantity of finds was retrieved, f.ex. 136 kg of pottery, glass, metal, stone and animal bone. Preservation of organic remains is good. A contour survey was carried out in the area south and west of the main excavation area, creating a surface model with several earthworks. Furthermore tephra analysis was carried out to estimate which tephra layers were to be expected in the area and geoarchaeological analysis to charachterize the land management and compare it against other farm types.

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Skáholt 2003: Interim Report No. 2 [3.76 MB]
In 2003 the excavation area in the farm mound was extended to the west. The new area proved to be far more complex than anticipated due to great truncations and disturbance, mostly by 20th century leveling. Excavation in the area from the previous year was continued end among other things further 17th century remains were investigated in the area where a haybarn was built in 1902. Perhaps the most important revelation is that the 19th century farm as shown on an 1836 plan is in fact simply the northwestern part of the 18th century farm, re-used. Most of the farm buildings were more or less abandoned in the late 18th century. The realization that the 18th century rooms were in fact built on many different levels has ecplained differences in survival and added to the understanding of the spatial layout of The midden south of the farm mound was prospected, cored and trenched. Midden deposits appear to be present over a larte part of the southern slope of the farm mound. They consist primarily of peat-ash, up to 2,5 m deep. Some concentrations of bone middens were located and dated to the 18th century.

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Skáholt 2004: Interim Report No. 3 [3.04 MB]
The aims of the season (2004) were to complete the excavations of the eastern side of the settlement back to early 17th century levels, to continue work on the western part and to expand investigations on the midden slope south of the farm mound. Some rare and unusual finds were uncovered, f.ex. a cold coin from the 18th century and a carved gaming piece. Some elements in the settlement have clearly not been shown in maps existing from the 18th-19th centuries, f.ex. in terms of access and movement around the site. Among these is the fact that many rooms on the western wing of the settlement have been gradually closed off from the main passage. Remains pre 1630 have only been seen at the eastern end of the site. Two trenches were excavated in the midden area and layers excavated so far seem to date to the 18th century.

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Skáholt 2005: Interim Report No. 4 [5.71 MB]
2005 was the fourth season of excavation in Skálholt. In the main area, work continued in the western side, previously opened in 2003, as well as in the extension to the south, opened this season. Most of the stuff excavated belongs to phases 3 and 4, ca. 1630/50-1896. The midden area south of the house complex was continued. A trench from previous year was extended to the north but as in previous year did not produce a large number of finds. It was decided to try a more systematic method and continue the midden excavation by digging 2x2 m test pits along the crest of the midden slope at 5 m interval.

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Interim Report of Animal Bones from the 2002: Excavations at Skálholt, S Iceland (NORSEC Lab Report 10) [0.10 MB]
This is an interim working report on animal bones excavated from 19th century contexts at the site of Skálholt in S Iceland in 2002 by Fornleifastofnun lslands. The investigations are ongoing, and this is only the first of a series of zooarchaeological reports on this major site. Fish and bird remains are still under study and will be discussed in later interims, but this paper reports the 2,185 mammal bone fragments (745 of which could be identified as cattle, caprine, and horse) from 14 context. These domestic mammal bones are in most ways similar to other early modern Icelandic archaeofauna, with a strong concentration upon sheep and cattle. Butchery patterns include characteristic bi-perforation of caprine metapodials and some highly patterned preparation of sheep and cattle rib racks for formalized consumption at table.

Project Location

Latitude: 64.128094°N
Longitude: 20.529065°W