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Early Indo-European Texts

Old Norse

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old Norse with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old Norse Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old Norse language and its speakers' culture.

Ari orgilsson: On the Settling of Iceland

slendingabk gra ek fyrst biskupum vrum orlki ok Katli, ok snda ek bi eim ok Smundi presti. En me v at eim lkai sv at hafa ea ar vir auka, skrifaa ek essa of it sama far, fyr tan ttar-tlu ok Konunga-vi. Ok jk ek v er mr var san kunnara, ok n er grr sagt essi en eirri. En hvatki er missagt er frum essum, er skylt at hafa at heldr er sannara reynisk.

Fr slands byg.

sland bygisk fyrst r Norvegi dgum Haralds ins Hrfagra, Hlfdanarsonar ins Svarta, ann t -- at tlun ok tlu eira Teits fstra mins, ess manns er ek kunna spakastan, sonar sleifs biskups ; ok orkels furbrur mins, Gellissonar, er langt mundi fram; ok rar Snorradttur Goa, er bi var margspk ok lgfr -- er varr, Ragnarsson Lobrkar, lt drepa Eadmund inn Helga Englakonung. En at var dccclxx vetra eptir bur Krists, at v er ritit er sgu hans.

Ingfr ht mar Norrnn, er sannliga er sagt at fri fyrst aan til slands, er Haraldr inn Hrfagri var xvj vetra gamall, en annat sinn fm vetrum siar. Hann bygi sur Reykjarvk. ar er Inglfshfi kallar, fyr austan Minakseyri, sem hann kom fyrst land ; en ar Inglfsfell fyr vestan lfoss, er hann lagi sna eigu san. ann t var sland vii vaxit mili fjals ok fjru.

vru hr menn Kristnir eir er Normenn kalla papa. En eir fru san braut, af v at eir vildu eigi vera hr vi heina menn, ok ltu eptir bkr rskar ok bjllur ok bagla : at v mtti skilja at eir vru menn rskir.

En var fr manna mikil mjk t hingat r Norvegi, til ess unz konungrinn Haraldr bannai, af v at honum tti landaun nema. sttusk eir at, at hverr mar skyldi gjalda konungi fimm aura, s er eigi vri fr v skilir, ok aan fri hingat. En sv er sagt at Haraldr vri lxx vetra konungr, ok yri ttrr. au hafa upphf verit at gjaldi v er n er kallat landaurar. En ar galzk stundum meira, en stundum minna, unz lfr inn Digri gri skrt at hverr mar skyldi gjalda konungi hlfa mrk, s er fri mili Norvegs ok slands, nema konur ea eir menn er hann nmi fr. Sv sagi orkell oss Gellisson.


I composed the Book of Icelanders first for our bishops Thorlak and Ketil, and I showed it both to them and to the priest Saemund. But as it pleased them to have it so or for it to be augmented, I have written this one concerning the same topic, without the Genealogy and the Kings' Lives. I have added what later became more clear to me, and it now deals more fully with this or that story. And whatever is misstated in these histories, it should later be necessary to have that instead which should prove more correct.
On the Settlement of Iceland
Iceland was settled first from Norway in the days of Harald the Fair-Haired, son of Halfdan the Black, at that time -- according to the opinion and reckoning of my foster-brother Teit, a man I regard as very learned, son of the bishop Isleif; and of my uncle Thorkel, son of Gellir, who could remember a long time back; and of Thorith, daughter of Snorri the Chief, who was both greatly wise and steeped in tradition -- when Ivar, son of Shaggy-Breeches Ragnar, ordered Saint Edmund, king of the Angles, to be killed. And that was 870 years after the birth of Christ, as it is written in his story.
The Norwegian man was called Ingolf, who it's said had actually first travelled from there to Iceland, when Harald the Fair-Haired was 16 years old; and then on another journey a few years later. He settled south in Reykjavik. The place is called Ingolf's Head, east of Minthak's Shoal, where he first came to land; and Ingolf's Fell west of Ale-Force River, which he afterwards took possession of. At that time Iceland was covered with forest between mountain and beach.
There were Christian men in this place, whom the Norwegians called "papas". But they later went on their way, since they did not want to stay here with heathen men, and they left behind their Irish books and bells and bagals: in this way they were able to determine that they were Irish men.
There was a very extensive migration of people out to here from Norway, up to the point when king Harald banned it, since it seemed to him to amount to a depopulation. Then they settled on this, that each man should pay the king five ounces of silver, and he should not be exempt from this, whosoever would journey here from there. And so it is said that Harald was king 70 years, and reached eighty years old. These have become the basis for the tax which is now called land-dues. Sometimes more were paid, sometimes less, until Olaf the Thick made definite that each man should pay the king a half mark, whoever would travel between Norway and Iceland, except women or those men whom he should exempt. So Thorkel, son of Gellir, told us.