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Įrbók Hins ķslenzka fornleifafélags

						SÖGUALDARBYGGÐ  í   HVÍTÁRHOLTI                                                                   79
north wall. In the west end of the hall there is a pavement along the middle
of the floor. — There are two entrances on the front (south) wall, both with
a paved area in front. It should be emphasized, that the east end of the hall
was not altogether clear, and it even looks as if the hall was made shorter by
building a new gable somewhat farther west, whereafter rubbish was thrown
in the abandoned part.  A number  of  small  objects  were found there.
The front wall of the hall was rather indistinct but could be located fairly
reliably, whereas the back or north wall stood out quite clearly, not least be-
cause of the easily recognizable layer of pumice in the sods used for its construc-
tion. — Behind the hall there is a small house built on to it, probably a pantry
with a door leading into the hall. In the small house the floor was black with
charcoal dust and quite easy to detect. The dimensions of the house are 3,5x5,0 m.
Close to the walls there are rows of small holes of the same nature as in House
III. If this house was a pantry, it is striking not to find impressions of barrels
for sour milk, a feature well known from other sites. However, there is a shallow
oval hole or pit in the floor, 2,2 m in diameter, and four post holes in it. It is
uncertain  what this  means.
House IX (Figs. 29-31), a hall just south of House III. The hall is of a more
simple design than House III and smaller, 16,3 m long and 4,95 m wide in the
middle and tapers off towards the ends. The walls are of the same nature as
in a!l other houses, and the outlines of the hall are quite clear. The posts, which
supported the roof, seem to have rested on stones, not in post holes. The sleeping
benches in this room are very clear and higher than in the other halls. The
bench at the back (north) wall is considerably wider than the other one. The
hearth in the middle of the floor is quite simple, actually no more than a few
stones, as if thrown casually on the spot. The entrance is on the front (south)
wall, near the west end. — At the east end of the back wall there is a small
house built on to the hall as is the case in House VIII. The dimensions of this
back house are 3,2x3,8, and it seems to have been a pantry.
House X (see Fig. 29), a pit house, appeared beneath the floor of the just
mentioned back house and is therefore quite obviously older. It could even have
belonged to the hall, House II. This house is of the same nature as the other
pit houses. Orientation NW-SE, size about 2,4x3,8 m, post holes close to walls.
May have been a bath-house.
Although no more houses were observed at Hvítárholt during the excavations,
it is not impossible that the site originally was more extensive. Part of it
might already be destroyed by recent cultivation nearby. It is, however, likely
that these 10 houses represent the core of the original site, if not the whole
settlement.
The settlement at Hvítárholt is not mentioned in any mediaeval sources, but
it is quite obviously from the Viking Age. The three halls are of Viking Age
type and should be dated to the lOth century roughly. The evidence of the vol-
canic ash layer from about 900 A. D., found in the sods, is in good harmony
with this assumption. Finally, all objects found at Hvítárholt, with one ex-
ception, are quite typical for Icelandic Viking Age sites.
Pit houses of the Hvítárholt type were not previously known in Iceland,
but they are in every respect comparable to such houses in other countries. Pit
houses seem to have been used as workshops, living quarters, bath-houses etc.
The author finds it most likely that all pit houses at Hvítárholt were bath-
houses, although this may be open to discussion. In the Icelandic sagas there
are many references to pit houses (jarðhús). In the Eyrbyggja saga, the author
of which seems to have been well informed about old ways, there is a good
description of a bath-house which was sunk down into the ground, a jarðhús,
					
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