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Saga-Age Ramparts and Tunnel Identified

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Saga-Age Ramparts and Tunnel Identified

Hrafnseyri við Arnarfjörð

Hrafnseyri. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Remains of a structural wall and a short tunnel from the twelfth century, which are mentioned in the Sagas of the Icelanders, appear to have been found using geophysical surveying at Hrafnseyri, by Arnarfjörður in the West Fjords.

Hrafnseyri is best-known as the birthplace of Jón “the President” Sigurðsson—Iceland’s most famous hero of the independence movement, born in 1811. However, it is also known to have been the home of Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson in the 12th century. Hrafn was famously killed by Þorvaldur Vatnsfirðingur at the beginning of the Age of the Sturlungs (the closest thing Iceland ever got to a civil war). Hrafn was considered the country’s first ever educated doctor.

Archaeologist Margrét Hrönn Hallmundsdóttir today gave a lecture at the National Museum about her research at Hrafnseyri over the last six years. She strongly believes the structures she has identified could be the ones mentioned in the Saga of Hrafn Sveinbjarnarson (Hrafns Saga Sveinbjarnarsonnar.)

“It is written that Hrafn had built around his farm a great structure,” Margrét told Vísir—adding that it was said to be tall enough for people to need to climb up to cross the ramparts. “It is also recorded that there was a tunnel, no dissimilar to that found at Keldur—in other words, it was not unknown in the Age of the Sturlungs. We have found evidence of that,” she says.

The wall is thought to be two meters wide and made from very large stones.

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