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Uppgröftur í Skálholti 2002-2007

Fornleifauppgröftur í Skálholti_Fornleifastofnun.jpg

Seven centuries of intense activity in Skálholt have left an uncontrollable amount of trash, ash, food scraps, useless and lost artefacts and rare waste. Organic remains (ie bones, wood, leather, wool, etc.) have also been exceptionally well preserved. This provides an opportunity for diverse studies and brings experts from various disciplines to the project to study the different aspects, which can shed light, among other things, on diet, economy, health, environmental changes and land use.

Working on an archaeological dig requires a lot of expertise and is physically demanding. Excavation workers are both trained archaeologists and students, using advanced excavation methods and the best available equipment. Before the actual excavation began, a resistivity measurement was made on part of the parking lot. Instruments are used that make it possible to see the nature and extent of structural remains hidden beneath the surface. Then the research area was carefully measured and a coordinate system was laid out. The main work consists in the excavation itself, where all human remains and artefacts are carefully mapped and recorded. This is done so that you can fully understand the development of the buildings, their use and what happened when they were abandoned. All remains and strata are recorded, photographed, drawn, height measured, located in a coordinate system and accurately described. In this way, all the information about the archaeological remains can be preserved.


The results were that the remains of buildings from the 18th century were found. In the middle of the excavation area there is a tunnel with the stern north-south. To the west of them are buildings connected to the bishop's residence, while to the east are the remains of a hospital, a school and a school cabin or dormitory for schoolboys. In Skálholt, a school for priests was founded early on, and after the Reformation there were usually 30-40 schoolboys who lived on hard labor. Under the floor of the school, there was a light fixture, which is believed to be a remnant of central heating. A log made of slabs has been lying under the floor, up from a square slab box made of stone. There may have been an iron furnace and hot air from it, which has been led up wooden panels, and it is possible that this heating device was supposed to improve that. In the middle of the east wall of the school, a fireplace or onn was discovered, but it belongs to an older path of the schoolhouse than the log. The furnace is so big that people have been sitting inside it, and it is possible that the schoolboys took turns keeping warm.

Timing of monuments

Various methods are used to date human remains. Sources are very important, not least when researching places like Skálholt for which there are many sources. In Iceland, volcanic ash is also useful. Igneous layers can usually be recognized and dated. In this way, the relative timing of the human remains found under or above the igneous layers is obtained. At Skálholtsstaður, pyroclastic layers are mainly found in construction turf, but in the surrounding fields they are also useful for dating the cropping history of the place. Another method of dating is to use artifacts found in human habitation layers to date the relics. Knowledge, experience and research enable archaeologists to date the artefacts and figure out what period the relics are from.

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