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The Vikings in Iceland

The Discovery and Settlement of iceland

Two important documentary sources give detailed information about the settlement of Iceland. They are the Íslendingabók and the Landnámabók.


The Íslendingabók was compiled in the early 12th century by Ari Þorgilsson, an Icelandic priest (1068–1148). It is divided into 12 sections:


1. Settlement of Iceland

2. Bringing of laws from Norway

3. Establishment of Alþingi

4. Fixing of the calendar

5. Partition of Iceland into judicial quadrants

6. Discovery and settlement of Greenland

7. Conversion of Iceland to Christianity

8, 9, 10. Bishops and lawspeakers in Iceland




The surviving manuscripts of Landnámabók date to the second half of the 13th century, or even a little later. However, it has been suggested that an early version of Landnámabók was also written by Ari Þorgilsson.

Landnámabók is divided into five sections: the first section relates the discovery of Iceland, and the next four sections list settlers quarter by quarter beginning with the west quarter and ending with the south quarter. It relates important events into the 12th century.

Landnámabók lists over 3,000 people (435 men as the initial settlers), and over 1,400 settlements.

 Next page: The Althing and the legal system