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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 Þorgilsson: On the Settling of Iceland

Íslendingabók gørða ek fyrst biskupum várum Þorláki ok Katli, ok sýnda ek bæði þeim ok Sæmundi presti. En með því at þeim líkaði svá at hafa eða þar viðr auka, þá skrifaða ek þessa of it sama far, fyr útan Ættar-tǫlu ok Konunga-ævi. Ok jók ek því er mér varð síðan kunnara, ok nú er gørr sagt á þessi en á þeirri. En hvatki er missagt er í frœðum þessum, þá er skylt at hafa þat heldr er sannara reynisk.

Frá Íslands bygð.

Ísland bygðisk fyrst ór Norvegi á dǫgum Haralds ins Hárfagra, Hálfdanarsonar ins Svarta, í þann tíð -- at ætlun ok tǫlu þeira Teits fóstra mins, þess manns er ek kunna spakastan, sonar Ísleifs biskups ; ok Þorkels fǫðurbróður mins, Gellissonar, er langt mundi fram; ok Þóríðar Snorradóttur Goða, er bæði var margspǫk ok ólúgfróð -- er Ívarr, Ragnarsson Loðbrókar, lét drepa Eadmund inn Helga Englakonung. En þat var dccclxx vetra eptir burð Krists, at því er ritit er í sǫgu hans.

Ingófr hét maðr Norrœnn, er sannliga er sagt at fœri fyrst þaðan til Íslands, þá er Haraldr inn Hárfagri var xvj vetra gamall, en í annat sinn fám vetrum siðar. Hann bygði suðr í Reykjarvík. Þar er Ingólfshǫfði kallaðr, fyr austan Minþakseyri, sem hann kom fyrst á land ; en þar Ingólfsfell fyr vestan Ǫlfossá, er hann lagði sína eigu á síðan. Í þann tíð var Ísland viði vaxit í miðli fjals ok fjǫru.

Þá váru hér menn Kristnir þeir er Norðmenn kalla papa. En þeir fóru síðan á braut, af því at þeir vildu eigi vera hér við heiðna menn, ok létu eptir bœkr Írskar ok bjǫllur ok bagla : at því mátti skilja at þeir váru menn Írskir.

En þá varð fǫr manna mikil mjǫk út hingat ór Norvegi, til þess unz konungrinn Haraldr bannaði, af því at honum þótti landauðn nema. Þá sættusk þeir á þat, at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi fimm aura, sá er eigi væri frá því skiliðr, ok þaðan fœri hingat. En svá er sagt at Haraldr væri lxx vetra konungr, ok yrði áttrœðr. Þau hafa upphǫf verit at gjaldi því er nú er kallat landaurar. En þar galzk stundum meira, en stundum minna, unz Óláfr inn Digri gørði skýrt at hverr maðr skyldi gjalda konungi hálfa mǫrk, sá er fœri á miðli Norvegs ok Íslands, nema konur eða þeir menn er hann næmi frá. Svá sagði Þorkell oss Gellisson.

Translation

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.