The Settlement Exhibition - History and Facts | History Hit

The Settlement Exhibition


The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement in its original setting.

Antara Bate

29 Apr 2021

About The Settlement Exhibition

The Settlement Exhibition displays the remains of Iceland’s first known Viking settlement set in its original location in Reykjavik. Visitors to the Settlement Exhibition can see an array of artefacts excavated at the site as well as the stone foundations of a Viking Longhouse.

The site of the Settlement Exhibition dates back to 871 AD, while the longhouse is believed to be from the 10th century.

The Settlement Exhibition history

In 2001 archaeological remains were excavated in Aðalstræti, which turned out to be the oldest relics of human habitation in Reykjavík. In the heart of Reykjavik’s downtown area, a wall fragment was found dating before 871 AD. The excavation also unearthed a hall or a longhouse from the tenth century.

The remains of the hall from the Settlement Age, thought to have been inhabited from 930-1000 AD.

The Settlement Exhibition is also known as Reykjavik 871± 2 due to the fact that a layer of tephra was deposited around 871 AD from an eruption in the Torfajokull area, about 400 km to the east. The layer was dated to 871, with a possible range of error or two years either way. The tephra plays a crucial role in dating finds from the early years of Reykjavik history.

The Settlement Exhibition today

The Settlement Exhibition imaginatively combines the latest technology with archaeology to give a glimpse into early Icelandic life. There are a number of captivating high-tech displays such as a wraparound panorama showing how things would have looked at the time of the longhouse.

Interactive multimedia tables explain the area’s excavations, and a space-age panel allows you to steer through different layers of the longhouse construction. Artefacts range from great awk bones to fish-oil lamps and an iron axe. The latest finds from ancient workshops near the current Alþingi include a spindle whorl inscribed with runes.

Complimentary audio guides are available year-round and free guided tours are offered on weekdays in June, July and August.

Getting to The Settlement Exhibition

The Settlement Exhibition is located in central Reykjavik within walking distance of Harpa and the National Museum of Iceland. The museum does not have on site parking. There is a bus stop nearby.