From Iceland — Archeological Excavations In The Ruins Of Þingeyraklaustur

Archeological Excavations In The Ruins Of Þingeyraklaustur

Published August 24, 2020

Catherine Magnúsdóttir
Photo by
Wikimedia Commons / Arian Zwegers

During an archeological excavation in the ruins of the old monestary Þingeyraklaustur, several ancient items were found.

Among them are piece of book leather, a seal ring and a table with an ancient lettering.

According to a report by RÚV, the monastery used to be a place of great literacy and book-making and was run in Þingeyrar for more than four centuries. Many significant Icelandic manuscripts, including Flateyjarbók, were written and published there.

Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir, professor of archeology at the University of Iceland, leads the excavation. She says that she’s not expecting to find sacred books and manuscripts, but is rather looking for traces of book-making, skin tannings and the like.

“They used mostly calfskin, we are looking for animal bones and such. And then, of course, various residues, coloring stones and other things that came with it.”

The excavation began on August 10th with a planned duration of three weeks. The team has already dug through comparatively younger buildings, on top of the the ruins of the actual monastery, finding artefacts from around the sixteenth century, when the monastery Þingeyraklaustur had already been closed.

Apart from the seal ring, the table and the leather, which was most likely around a book, according to Steinunn, the excavation team also discovered some prayer beads and a sash with old fonts, which could be referencing a Bible text.

According to Steinunn, Þingeyraklaustur was huge and the current excavation can only cover a small part of the ruins area. The team is hoping to be there for a few years, although excavating Þingeyraklaustur could be a decades-long project.

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