TRADITION tells that it was Gardar Svavarsson, a Swede with estates in Denmark, who, first of the vikings, discovered and explored Iceland, having been driven there by wind and storm after a voyage to the Hebrides. But it was not much later that the Norwegian Naddod, sailing with his company to the Faroe, was also storm-driven upon Iceland; he gave the country the name of Snowland, and when at last he was safely back in Norway he had much to say in praise of it. Then followed the voyage of the Viking Floki Vilgerdsson who sailed by way of Scotland to Iceland; unlike Naddod, he did not speak very highly of the new country on his return, because his few cattle had all died for want of fodder during the winter and he had had several other unpleasant experiences in the course of a lengthy sojourn there. It was Floki who gave this country the name it still bears.

Nevertheless the Norsemen were not long in peopling the far-off island that Naddod had found so agreeable; for it must have been shortly after the middle of the ninth century that these voyages of discovery took place and it was as early as the year A.D. 8741 that the first of the Norwegian colonists in Iceland came as emigrants to their new home. These were Ingolf Arnarson and Leif Hrodmarsson.

The story goes that Ingolf and Leif, who were foster-brothers and cousins, after a viking voyage in the company of three young nobles, the sons of Jarl Atli of Gaular, quarreled with them and killed two of them in battle. As a result of this the law demanded the confiscation of Leif's goods (for he was the cause of the quarrel) and the two foster-brothers soon found that life in Norway was henceforth going to be a miserable business for them, so they decided upon emigration and as a first step they sailed off to the new country of which there was so much talk with the intention of seeing for themselves what Iceland was really like.


Ari Libellus Islandorum antedates the first settlement by four years. And see note as to as to possibility of still earlier settlements in Iceland and Greenland, p. 362.


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A History of the Vikings


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