This summer I worked on researching the settlement history of Iceland. The current settlement history of Iceland states that Norwegian Vikings were the first settlers, however there are archeological and medieval literary hints that suggest Iceland’s first settlers were Irish monks who dug mysterious artificial caves in the south of Iceland. However Iceland’s first historical written records state that these Irish monks were driven out of Iceland by Norwegian vikings and the act of the settlement of Iceland was placed on Norwegians, not on the Irish.
I focused on reading Iceland’s first pieces of historical writing on how the country was settled in order to learn more about the settlement of Iceland and why perhaps, history seems to be disregarding the presence of these Celtic Christians and dismisses the story as myth. These first Icelandic texts have a mysterious background as well, as it is unclear who actually wrote the sagas themselves and the topic of how the information was acquired is discussed and considered in the academic field heavily. I also read about caves in Ireland and the British Isles to potentially make a connection between the artificial caves in Iceland.
This interdisciplinary project will continue in the fall both through research and on-site investigation. A small class travel intensive will continue research and will travel to Iceland in October to observe and record the markings on the caves walls as well as learn about the family history and stories of the people whose land the caves now occupy.