Here are the clues to the location of Iceland's first settlement.
The clues for finding it are:
-There was a WWII German prisoner of war camp located nearby. Milk was transported from one place to the other by horse drawn wagon so it was not too far.
-It was below a nearby hill from which you can see a long way out to sea and along the coast. (Nobody could sneak up without two hours warning.)
-There are a series of holes drilled into rocks which then were right at the oceans edge.
-There are large rocks all around the area that were used for stacking shipments on. These were ground flat using ponies and grinding stones. The ocean undermines large rocks so they may be tipping or even have rolled so the flat part on some may not be on the top.
We inserted pegs in the holes and then ships would tie to the pegs. It was a very simple way to make a port. The pegs could be moved to allow for larger ships or to reconfigure the harbor. I don't think anyone knows what those holes were for. Most people probably think they are very recent.
The flat rocks were ground down using ponies that slid (usually granite) rocks across them. The rocks were tied to sleds.
This was the first and the only settlement in Iceland at the time. When it was first established there were many marauders and it was carefully chosen so any approaching ship could be seen far out to sea or coming up the bay, and men approaching by land would also be seen from at least 17 km away.
When the settlement got larger and piracy was eliminated over a 20 year period (in a combined effort by all nations in unity) it was safe to move to a less exposed location however, it was a split decision every time it was voted on. Then a hurricane came though and everyone (except one person) decided that one day 'it's time to move'.
There were about 50 holes.
I know people walk near these holes during the summertime and look down at them under the water where it is only 6-24" deep. (My sense is that there are about a 1,000 people who have taken notice of them under the water in the last five years and this should awake someone.)
Nearby there are 'unusual' flat rocks by the water (in ~650-750 AD). They were for stacking cargo when putting them or taking them off the ships. Ponies were used to grind the rocks flat.
.This settlement started out a whaling colony but was abandoned?? by which time it was one of the two main ports to Europe. Lots of cargo came through this port.
It's hard to describe where it is located. Now I look a map of the earth and I see the land masses separated by water but Vikings saw the world as water masses separated by land. Vikings lands were not refered to by what land mass they were located on but by association with the rest of the Viking ports. Like this maps shows.
This maps shows the land as continuous from Promentory Vinlandia (America) Skralingland (American Indian lands) to Gronlandia (Greenland) on the west over to Norway on the east with only one break in the land mass. It wasn't important whether the land was continuous or not. Land forms were pretty insignificant to Vikings.
This is exactly how I recall Viking territory in that life. Vikings saw everything from the perspective of the ocean, not the land as everyone else saw it. Any land that was farther than you could walk in a day were not to be concerned about. It's often very difficult to transpose any location I knew of in that life to a location on a modern map.
From my earlier notes: It was on the side facing England and there were hundreds of people that lived there, perhaps 500-1000 and then it snowed an awful snow and that killed about half the livestock since there was no shelter there. Then there was a hurricane that passed nearly through it and it had 30 foot waves on top of a five foot storm surge and the Vikings said 'to heck with this place' and they all moved.
It was too exposed to the weather except for when it was a nice warm day and then it was still about 9 degrees colder than everywhere else on the island so it wasn't really even warm and nice [then]. So everyone left. This is a very strong memory and not to be dismissed.
By the time the hurricane hit, Iceland was settled and there were no brigantines left so it was safe for the settlement and the main harbor to move to where it was more protected from the elements.
Look along the coast for the holes they drilled, and they look like modern holes that were made with modern drills, in the rocks for poles for the docks and for poles for tying up ships. Unless the sea level has dropped they should above the water line. I think the water did drop about 5 feet around 500 AD. So they are very likely to mostly be underwater. Also look for the hewn rocks that have flattened tops around the shoreline. They made them flat on top so they could stack cargo on the rocks.
The reason I can describe that port so well that I studied it in one Viking lifetime to learn all about how it was constructed. I was going to use those same techniques to make similar ports elsewhere and perhaps in America. I can draw how they drilled the holes so perfectly. It's not nearly as hard as you might think and it took only about six hours for three men to drill a 3" hole into rock about two or three feet.
You would find a harder
rock and place it on a spear. Then wrapping a rope around the spear once
or twice two men could then pull on opposite ends of the rope and spin
the spear. A third man would press the spear against the rock using a
stone with an indentation. I forget how they kept the friction down on
this part of it. I think it may have involved up to 8 layers of hard leather
that spun against each other.
For large holes they would
use twelve men and an oar to keep the tension on the rope, with the ten
men moving the oar back and forth to spin the drill. The reason I an describing
this is that the resulting hole looks like it was made recently, with
modern drilling equiptment and not 1000 years ago with a rock, a spear,
an oar and a rope. It is very easy to walk right past these holes.
Technically it would have been easy to start settlements in Iceland much earlier than they were started. Iceland was a well known island, it was green, it had fur and fish. So why weren't there any Iceland colonies started as early as 400 ADE when it would known to exist in Europe? (Nobody ever asks that question, do they?)
Any settlement with less than 100 people would have been wiped out by mauraders and pirates. So it had to start out a large colony. It wasn't until there was a need for whale oil created by Europe that there was an incentive to start a colony that began large.
Four towns in Norway had started harvesting whales and then somebody looked west and said 'why don't we go to that big island and start harvesting whales there'? That's how this colony got started.
It was on the exposed east side of the island for a reason. The women chose to defend themselves by fighting to the death rather than surrender to any invaders that might attack while the men were away. The location was chosen so that marauders could be seen from a lookout on a hill while they were still far off. That way the women and children would have enough time to get bonfires going and a few vats of whale oil boiling. It was the time of the year that whales were killed and their oil became as if it was gold. The rest of Europe was getting richer and could afford whale oil. In fact the Iceland colony wa
This colony was started because the increase in Europe's need for whale oil. It goes farther back than the 13th century written about in history books.
© 2004 John Pinil