Previous Exhibitions

Saga of Hofstaðir, Unearthing the Past in North Iceland

  • 22.02.2020 - 2.10.2022 The Arc Hall - National Museum of Iceland

At Hofstaðir in the district of Lake Mývatn, north Iceland, extensive archaeological excavations have been carried out over the past three decades. The site includes remains from the Viking Age to the 20th century. A huge Viking-Age structure was excavated: a hall or longhouse where people gathered on social occasions, with other smaller buildings around it. The hall is one of the largest structures ever excavated in Iceland. In addition, a churchyard was excavated at Hofstaðir, which is one of the oldest churchyards unearthed in Iceland. Whole families were laid to rest in the cemetery, and their bones yield evidence about their lives. The face of one of the women buried at Hofstaðir has been reconstructed using DNA technology, and a drawing of her is included in the exhibition.

Hundreds of people have been involved in the archaeological project at Hofstaðir and elsewhere in the vicinity of Lake Mývatn. The project has resulted in more than 100 books, academic papers, reports and student essays. The objective of the exhibition is above all to provide insight into the complex process of archaeological research. During the many years of the Hofstaðir project, technological advance has been rapid in all specialist fields of archaeology. The Hofstaðir project has made an important contribution to the development of an extensive network of scholars carrying out a wide range of research in the north Atlantic region.

A long-term study such as the Hofstaðir project clearly exemplifies how ideas, knowledge and interpretation of the past change over time. The exhibition explores the archaeological finds at Hofstaðir, archaeological research, and the ways that different scholarly disciplines seek answers to questions about:

- The land and its utilisation

- Hofstaðir as a social centre

- Daily life

- Diet

- Family

- 13th to 20th centuries

- Research