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Is this Iceland's earliest house?

A hotel was being built in the middle of Reykjavik when archaeologists uncovered what is believed to be the very first house in Iceland. Very precise data dating was possible due to the discovery of tephra from a volcanic eruption from the Torfajökull area.

Plans for the hotel were adapted in order to leave the longhouse in situ in the basement, but conserving the house turf by turf was a major undertaking, not least because a spring rises within the site.

The outer walls of the house were made of turf blocks, with some stone included in the foundations. The roof was also of turf, apparently supported by two roof posts and the walls, which is unusual for a dwelling of this period where the weight of the roof was generally born by additional posts and other internal timbers. The western wall was built over the spine of a horse or cow. The fireplace in the middle of the house is one of the largest so far found in Iceland. Most of the house had an earthen floor. Only a small area of the western part of the house had a timber bench.

The discovery of the house confirms that 'The Book of Settlements' and the 'Book of Icelanders' were accurate in identifying this area as being where the first settlers lived.

Contact Details

Aðalstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík


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