Árbók Hins íslenzka fornleifafélags - 01.01.1955, Blaðsíða 29
KAPELLUHRAUN OG KAPELLULÁG_______________ 33
ruins were excavated in 1950. The house was exceedingly small, measuring only
2,40 m in length and 2,20 in width, the walls built in full height of rough lava
blocks. The entrance was through the west wall, which accordingly had collapsed
more completely than the other walls, but those still stand in almost the original
height, about 1,80 m.
A great many stones had from time to time fallen into the house. When they
were removed some insignificant traces of human activity appeared there. One
remarkable thing, however, was found, namely a small image of a female saint,
carved out of some hard greyish clay. The figure certainly represents St. Bar-
bara, as the attribute, the tower, is easily recognizable, even though the figure
is not preserved entirely. Originally the figure measured about 5 cm in height.
A half amber bead was also found in the ruin, perhaps originally from a rosary.
Even though that may be uncertain, the image of St. Barbara strongly supports
the assumption based on the name of the ruin, that in the Catholic period (before
1550 A. D.) this small house really was a chapel, where wayfarers could say
their prayers. Roadside chapels are well known in many countries. In the time
immediately following the eruption the new lava field was probably considered
terrifying and dangerous to cross, a fact which might account for the erection
of a chapel there. In all probability the house also served travellers as a shelter
in bad weather, a place where they could eat and rest. This is to some extent shown
by distinct traces of fire-making and fragments of clay vessels, iron nails and
even horse-shoes. That this use of the house lasted at least till the 17th century
is indicated by a fragment of a clay pipe, found among the things mentioned.
2. East of the farm Hraun in Grindavík on the south side of the Reykjanes
peninsula there is a long ^tretch of sand, bare and desolate. No traces of human
activity are seen there except in one place called Kapellulág (Chapel's Hollow)
situated near an ancient track leading from Grindavík to the districts lying
farther east. In this spot there is a small heap of sand, earth and stones, known
by the local people as Dysin, meaning "the Cairn". This little mound is made the
more conspicuous because of the striking nakedness of the immediate surroun-
dings. The mound was excavated in 1954 and was found to contain the remains
of a very small house, 2,20 m long and 1,20 m wide, the walls built of rough
stones in the common Icelandic fashion, only the west gable with the entrance
being constructed of timber. Except for its unusual smallness this house was in
no way remarkable. But it yielded a good many finds of more than usual interest.
On the floor were found a lot of small objects of various kinds, most of them in
some way or other connected with clothes, especially women's clothes. There are
some 35 ornamental bronze plates, stamped from exceedingly thin, hammered
sheets of bronze, pins of a mediaeval type, silver buttons, fragments of amber
beads, fragments of tin and lead, a piece of glass and some 210 very rusty and
swollen pieces of iron, some of them recognizable as viails and horse-shoe nails.
To crown the success of the éxcavation was the find of an English mediaeval
silver coin, a halfpenny from the reign of Edward IV, struck between 1464 and
1470, dating the whole to that time approximately.
Nothing was found to support the idea that this house had been a chapel. So