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The Lögberg

Previous page: Thingvellir 

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The period of the Icelandic Commonwealth ran from 930 till 1262. During that time, the Lögberg (Law Rock) was the focus of the Alþing. From the Lögberg, the lögsögumaðr ( law-speaking man) recited a third of the laws each year and each year he recited the procedural rules of the assembly.

The lögsögumaðr was chosen by the Lögrétta, the Legislative Assembly, for a three-year term and was the only paid employee of the Commonwealth. During the Alþing, the Law Speaker was the most powerful person in the country, but for the rest, he was officially powerless, although he enjoyed the esteem of his contemporaries because of his important role.

At the Lögberg anyone could come forward to speak. Here speeches were given about important matters, and details were reported of significant events. Inauguration and dissolution of the assembly took place at Lögberg, where rulings by the Law Council were announced, the calendar was confirmed, legal actions were brought and other announcements made which concerned the entire nation. Anyone attending the assembly was entitled to present his case on important issues from the Law Rock.

In 1262, the Icelanders took allegiance to the Norwegian king. From this time on, the role of Lögberg disappeared. As a result, the precise location of the Lögberg has been a matter of some debate. There are two main theories:
1, The Lögberg could be the flat ledge at the top of the slope Hallurinn, north of the Hamraskarð pass, where the flagpole is now.
2, The Lögberg might have been in the Almannagjá fault itself, up against the higher rock wall (as depicted in W. G. Collinwood’s painting shown above.

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