SASS – UMass Boston – Fiske Center – Archaeology

Blog of the Skagafjordur Archaeological Settlement Survey

Excavation at Seyla


Over the past few days, we’ve started to clear off the churchyard wall and some of the other buried features at Seyla.  We’re slowly mapping out the features that correspond to the anomalies we’ve seen in the geophysical results, including the central structure.

Brian, John, and Guðný contemplate some complex stratigraphy.

Viking Age floors in Iceland are thick, compacted, somewhat greasy layers composed of pink peat ash, black charcoal, white wood ash, and other colorful detritus of everyday life.  This morning as I was tracing out the edges of the floor that seems to go with a later phase of the central structure, a small silver pin appeared under my trowel:

Me photographing a small (about 1″ diameter) silver pin or brooch from the center of the Viking Age churchyard at Stóra-Seyla. The pink stuff behind me is the floor!

This afternoon, John and Brian visited Keflavík and Mið-grund, two other farms in Skagafjörður where we will be testing our geophysical instruments early next week.  Tomorrow we’re back at Seyla, then it’s a weekend trip to Mývatn to survey a boat burial and see the sights!

Author: Kathryn Catlin

Kathryn Catlin is an alumna of UMass Boston's Historical Archaeology MA program and a current PhD student in Anthropology at Northwestern University. Kathryn's research interests include the social and economic dimensions of settlement and colonization in Iceland, medieval England, and the colonial US. She is interested in developing survey techniques, including geophysical survey as well as more traditional archaeological methods, to describe relationships between the development of social inequality and the causes and consequences of environmental change. She has participated in numerous Fiske Center projects, including seasons in Iceland, Greenland, the Caribbean, and across New England.

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