Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland

A Settlement Age farm was discovered in 1986 in Garðabær town, which is a part of the Great Reykjavík Area.  It is a big Viking Age longhouse dating back to ca 870-930, 8x30 metres on the outside with a floor surface of 170 sq.m, which makes it the second largest longhouse discovered in Iceland.

We don't know who lived here, but it looks like a longhouse of a wealthy farmer.  It is believed that 20-30 people lived on the farm and it was most likely inhabited until the 12th century.  This was the land of Reykjavík's first settler, Ingólfur Arnarson, and Ingólfur's free slave, Vífill, lived only 2 km away at Vífilsstaðir.  
Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland

The Settlement Age Farm was discovered in 1986 during construction work when a kindergarten was to be built on this site.  In 1989 further excavation was made and from 1994-2000 a thorough archaeological excavation was carried out, supervised by Þjóðminjasafn Íslands - the National Museum of Iceland. 

One can see the ruins of a long central fireplace, but such fireplaces were typical in these Viking longhouses. The inhabitants sat by the long-fire and worked and ate and rested by the warm long-fire.

Ca 300 items were unearthed and an unusual bronze broach was discovered here, along with pins, knives and instruments.  Remains of a weaving room and many spindle whorls and loom-weights were unearthed at Hofsstaðir.  All cloth was woven in this way back then and during the Middle-Ages woven cloth was the biggest export in Iceland.  This was hard work carried out by women back in these days.

Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in IcelandTwo boiling holes were discovered filled with burnt animal bones from sheep, pigs, cattle and horses.  They were last used in the 10th-11th century.  What is unusual about these boiling holes is that they were outside, but usually they were located inside. 

You will also find remains of a pantry and a smithy - all well marked with information signs.

Turf and lava walls surround Hofsstaðir, which were erected later on to show the outer limits of the farm. 

A multimedia exhibition was installed at Hofsstaðir with very good information on the Settlement Age farm - thanks to Garðabær town.  This exhibition received the Nordic price NODEM back in 2004.  The last couple of times I have visited Hofsstaðir though the multimedia exhibition was on the blink.

Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland

To me the Settlement Age farm is a true hidden pearl.  And it is for sure hidden away as it cannot be seen from the main street.  One could even pass it and mistake it for a small park, without ever knowing about its great historical significance - that the Viking settlers lived on this very spot.

To me this is so interesting, a Viking Age farm hidden away between the houses and church here in the inhabited area of Garðabær town! I know that many Icelanders don't even know that it exists.

Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland
I stumbled upon Hofsstaðir on my way to Hafnarfjörður back in 1999+.  Back then I had to take 14 years off travelling and my only summer trips consisted of walking from Reykjavík to Hafnarfjörður and back.  So I know this area quite well.

Hofsstaðir is a part of the Saga and Heritage sites and centres in Iceland and I plan on showing you all of these Saga and Heritage sites in my blog, as they are of great interest to me. These sites are scattered around Iceland and I have visited all of them on my travels in my country.

Hofsstaðir Settlement Age farm is always open and there is no entrance fee.  

Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland

There are several locations in Iceland called Hofsstaðir, one of which is located in Skagafjörður in North-Iceland.  At that Hofsstaðir you will find the only turf house in Iceland in which people still live all year round.  

Another Hofsstaðir is located by the popular salmon river Laxá in Aðaldalur just west of the ever so popular Mývatn area in North-Iceland. There extensive archaeological excavations are being carried out at the moment.  It is located right opposite my husband's family's summer cottage, so we have popped over to have a look at the excavations.  

The reason why there are so many places with the same name, Hofsstaðir, is that the Icelandic term "hof" means temple and back in the Viking Settlement Age, before Christianity was adopted in year 1000 in Iceland, there were several heathen temples in my country.  You can see from my first and last photos that there is now a Lutheran church located next to Hofsstaðir in Garðabær - but Christian Lutheranism is the State Religion in Iceland.

Hofsstaðir in Garðabær Town - a Viking Settlement Age Farm in Iceland
Hofsstaðir is located behind Vídalínskirkja church and the shopping complex Garðatorg.  Bus no 1 stops on the main street.  Walk east towards Garðatorg and turn left after you pass the shopping complex.  

Here you can see the exact location of Hofsstaðir on the map.  You can also rent a car in Reykjavík and drive to Garðabær.

I have written other blogs on Viking discoveries here in Iceland f.ex.:

The Historical Hjörleifshöfði Promontory in South-Iceland - Part I - the Blood Brothers Ingólfur and Hjörleifur

Viking Areas in Iceland - Eiríksstaðir Long House in West-Iceland

Stöng - Ruins of a Real Viking Settlement Manor and the Reconstructed Saga-Age Farm in Iceland

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