Greinasafni: Afþreying einnig undir: SveitarfélögIcelandic Times
A Blend of Two Cultures
The Irish Festival on the first weekend of July in Akranes is a reminder of the heritage of this part of the country. Iceland, the only nation to be formed during the Viking period, is predominantly a mix of Vikings and Celts. A body of evidence shows that Celts from both Ireland and Scotland settled in the West part of Iceland. However, precise dating is not possible and this gives rise to considerable debate in academic circles.
Landnámabók (The Book of Settlements) tells us that a chaptain from Ireland, Ketill Bresason and his brother, Þormóðir settled in Akranes and that his son, Gufa Ketilsson, lived in Seltjarnarnes. When the first settler from Norway, Ingólfur Arnason, arrived in Reyjavik, he drove Gufa out - indicating that at least two generations of Celtic settlers were living in the region about the same time as the Viking settlement.

Another notable settler who lived and died in Akranes was the Celtic Christian Saint Ásólfur. Such was his spiritual power that it is said he filled all the lakes with fish. Research has shown there to be very few pagan graves in the West - most are in the mid-South, mid-North and Fljótsdals area and almost no early Christian graves in the East or North of the country.

As the settlement progressed, a steady stream of Vikings arrived, many with slaves and royal princesses, predominantly from Ireland. Over time, the two ethnic groups integrated. A genetic test of the current population showed that 63% of the women are descended from Celtic forebears and 20% of the men.

The Celtic Christian Queen Auður sailed to Iceland in 895 and settled in Hvammur í Dölum, near Búðardalur. This area became a seat of literature and learning. Nothing resembling Icelandic medieval literature can be found in Scandinavia but was well-known in Ireland. In Celtic Christianity, writing was valued as highly as prayer and monasteries were devoted to it. However, there is no evidence that the Vikings were writers. It was Icelanders who wrote the Scandinavian history. All the Sagas about the Nordic countries were written in Iceland: Heimskringla about the Norwegian kings, Inglingasaga about the Swedish and Skjöldungasaga about the Danish kings. Just as the two nationalities merged, so did their languages. Many Icelandic words are not of Scandinavian origin, whilst many place names can be explained in Gælic, but have no Scandinavian root.

Today, everyone just enjoys the Celtic spirit - especially in the Irish Festival days.

Akranes
Stillholti 16-18 • 300 Akranes
+354 433 1000
akranes@akranes.is
www.akranes.is

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