Puzzling Ring-shaped Formations West Of Reykjavík Might Indicate Gaelic Legacy From The Viking Age

Seltjarnarnes is a little town located in southwestern Iceland, quite close to the country’s capital Reykjavík. On the namesake peninsula there lies a series of rather peculiar ring-shaped formations which could ultimately be the remains of several Viking Age constructions built by Irish settlers during the 9th century. These formations were discovered during the 1980s but to this date they have not been subject to extensive archaeological research.

According to Þorgeir S. Helgason, a local engineering geologist, these circular shapes might very well indicate an archaeological legacy on behalf of the Celtic-speaking settlers who colonized Iceland along with the Norsemen during the 9th and 10th centuries. These ring-shaped formations can hardly be seen from the ground and only under several conditions from above.

Seltjarnarnes beach, Iceland, with the lighthouse in the background. Image source: www.commons.wikimedia.org

The sole academic studies on this area were carried out by the National Museum of Iceland throughout the late 1990s. These studies showed the fact that the ring-shaped constructions in question were built shortly after the year 871 AD. This clue corresponds to the standard chronological narrative provided by the sagas regarding the Norse settlement of Iceland which started in 874 AD, the year when Ingólfur Arnarson became the first permanent Scandinavian settler of the Arctic island.

If these puzzling ring-shaped formations will be confirmed to have been once constructions built by Irish settlers, then the discovery will become an addition to the mixed Gaelic-Norse heritage of the Icelanders, given the fact that there are numerous Irish-sounding placenames in the southwest of the country and that even genetic studies play a pivotal role on the matter, highlighting as such the fact that the modern Icelandic population is descended from both the Norse settlers who originated in Scandinavia and the Celtic-speaking thralls (i.e. slaves) they brought from Ireland and Scotland during the Viking period. In order to see the aerial photos of the ring-shaped formations at Seltjarnarnes please see this article on Iceland Magazine.

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