From Iceland — Archaeological Excavation In Downtown Reykjavík

Archaeological Excavation In Downtown Reykjavík

Published July 13, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Szilas/ wikimedia commons

Since Autumn last year, archaeological excavations have taken place in the Cabinet Square in downtown Reykjavík.

The purpose of the excavations is to examine human remains on the government’s site due to planned construction in the area.

The excavation began in September last year, and various antiquities have already been discovered. Pedestrians passing through the area may see something resembling a stone wall for example. According Vala Garðarsdóttir, the archaeologist in charge of the excavation, a drainage pipe has been found as well, which probably dates from 1870.

“We have demolished a house here that was built in 1904 and had used what was here during its construction as a foundation for part of the house. Now we continue to dig and are starting to see a glimpse of something older here,” Vala tells Fréttablaðið and adds that there is a wall that at first glance seems to be from before the year 1500.

“I see tephra from 1226 in the turf but I don’t see tephra from 1500 so it’s an indication that this is older than everything else here, but I need to look at it more closely,” she says. Vala also says that various things came to light during the excavation in the Cabinet Square that she did not expect to find.

“There are all kinds of things that come with humans and are not recorded, for example we have come across two horse graves that are from the 19th century,” she says. “The horses were killed and then set in a grave, just in the middle of a residential yard.”

Work is still underway to dig up the horses’ bones, but they will be examined more closely after the weekend. “We leave the bones as they are now, but the holes are very deep,” says Vala.

The excavation will take place over the next two months. Following the excavation, it’s expected that an office building will be erected in the area and that the antiquities will be removed.

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