Cross carved inside Icelandic cave similar to Scottish ones.
New archaeological discoveries show that Iceland was inhabited around 800 AD, nearly 70 years before the usual dating of its Viking settlement. Researchers believe these early inhabitants may have come from Irish monastic communities found throughout the Scottish islands at that time and described in Viking-Age and medieval texts.
“Questions surrounding Iceland’s first settlement in the early medieval period have been of longstanding interest for scholars,” says Professor Kristjan Ahronson of Prifysgol Bangor University in Wales. He led the team that made the discoveries.
As an example of the longstanding interest in this topic, Ahronson pointed to the University of Toronto’s Sir Daniel Wilson, who argued in 1851 that “when Norseman first visited Iceland in the latter half of the 9th century, it was uninhabited, but they discovered traces of the former presence of Irish monks.”
One discovery was made at Kverkarhellir cave, on the land of Seljaland farm in southern Iceland. Nearly 200 of these artificial caves have been found on the island. “Tool marks on the cave walls vividly illustrate the artificial nature of these sites,” said Professor Ahronson.
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