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Įrbók Hins ķslenzka fornleifafélags

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Įrbók Hins ķslenzka fornleifafélags

						80                                                                            ÁRBÓK FORNLEIFAFÉLAGSINS
and the story told about it is in fact a vivid illustration to the use houses of
the Hvítárholt type could be put to.
The antiquities found at Hvítárholt are for the most part small things from
daily life. A good deal of bog iron ore indicates that iron extraction was
practised on the spot. Iron objects are not significant, knives, scissors and
fragments of other things. Fragments of steatite or soapstone are remarkably
numerous. Soapstone is a rock not found in Iceland, but soapstone things ob-
viously were imported in the Viking Age in great quantities, especially from
Norway. Among the soapstone things from Hvítárholt there are spindle whorls
(Fig. 33) and pot sherds and strange objects often found in the mediaeval
settlements of Greenland and explained as patches to mend broken soapstone
pots (Fig. 35). Fragments of millstones made of Icelandic lava probably
show that the people at Hvítárholt grew barley with success (Fig. 36). Gaming
pieces of the Viking Age top-form are no surprise, but two objects are also ex-
plained  as gaming pieces,  although  of a  more  rare  form   (Fig.  32).
It is a great surprise at Hvítárholt to find a roman copper coin, an antonini-
anus, from the time of Emperor Tacitus, who reigned for a few months in
275-276 A. D. (Fig. 37). The coin was found in the demolished end of House
VIII, together with a good deal of rubbish, ash, iron fragments and soap-
stone fragments. This is the fourth Roman coin to be found in Iceland. The
three others were found in the southeastern part of the country. AU four are
of the same type, copper antoniniani, all from the same time, a period within
30 years. This indicates that they might all originally be from the same hoard.
It is of course impossible to make certain how and where from these coins
were brought to Iceland. The present author finds it most reasonable that
they simply were brought there by Viking settlers, people who possibly came
to Iceland via England, where they somehow have come across a hoard of
Roman coins.
Why was this big and apparently prosperous farm given up after a
short time of habitation? It is difficult to give an adequate answer to this
question, but it is possible that in the course of time adverse conditions have
made themselves felt. Water supply may have been scarce, the top of the hillock
may have been found too exposed to strong winds, the river Hvítá may have
flowed over the pastures and meadows and done a lot of damage. There can be
many such reasons, but everything considered it is not likely that this good
land in the most fertile part of Iceland was given up as such. The farmers
probably just moved the farm houses to a more suitable spot within their
premises.
					
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