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History

Although the honours normally go to Reyk­javík and Ingólfur Arnarson, Húsavík was the real site of the first Nordic settlement in Iceland. Garðar Svavarsson, a Swedish Viking who set off around 850 for the mysterious Thule or Snæland (Snowland), was actually responsible for the island’s first permanent human settlement.

After a brief stop-off at Hornafjörður in the south, Garðar arrived at Skjálfandi on the north coast and built a settlement that he called Húsavík. Modestly renaming the country Garðarshólmur (Garðar’s Island), he dug in for the winter. At the advent of spring he prepared to depart, but some of his slaves were left behind. Whether by accident or design, these castaways became Iceland’s first real settlers, pioneering life in a new country and yet uncredited by the history books.