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Icelandic Cultural History “in Crisis”

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Icelandic Cultural History “in Crisis”

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Photo: Geir Ólafsson.

“Along the coast from Skagaströnd to Skagafjörður, 80 percent of known archaeological sites are registered as in danger or in great danger. If that is not a crisis in the nation’s cultural history, then I don’t know what constitutes a crisis,” says Eyþór Eðvarðsson, head of the Archaeological Society of Súgandafjörður.

He is currently working on cataloguing archaeological sites in the Westfjords region and has already covered the area from Reykjanes at the inner edge of Ísafjarðardjúp, north to Bolungarvík and down the western shore to Látrabjarg. The project has not, however, included Hornstrandir yet.

Eyþór expects the majority of the summer to go on photographing and recording the condition of sites, “Especially the bigger fishing stations where many people were.” He adds that some of the fishermen’s huts now disappearing into the sea are over a thousand years old.

“As an example, Kálfeyri in Önundarfjörður has been significantly damaged by the sea and many fishing stations are gone or damaged,” Eyþór told RÚV. It is the same story at Fjallaskagi in Dýrafjörður, which was once the locals’ main fishing station—home to up to 200 men at a time.

Eyþór says that most of these old structures have not been researched at all and may never be; as nothing is being done to protect most of them from destruction. He would like to see all sites comprehensively catalogued by a competent nationwide agency—a project he is already working on alone—and then for important remains to be moved out of harm’s way and gathered together as open-air museums; which he says has already been very successful in Scotland.

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