Overview

The Vatnsfjörður Project explores the reasons for the rise and decline of the chieftain's seat at Vatnsfjörður, northwest Iceland, and seeks to understand the relationship between this farm's evolution and the evolution of its landscape context.

It asks why this apparently infertile farm in the Westfjords was chosen as a seat of power, what factors and social processes enabled it to flourish as a social, economic and cultural powerhouse between the thirteenth and seventeenth centuries - despite the period of climatic deterioration that has become known as 'The Little Ice Age' - and why the importance of the farm declined after the seventeenth century. The waxing and waning of Vatnsfjörður mirror the changing fortunes of the whole Westfjord region, and by gaining a better understanding of the history of Vatnsfjörður, this project aims to shed new light on the social and economic history of northwest Iceland.

The project is directed by Dr Karen Milek in collaboration with Garðar Guðmundsson and Guðrún Alda Gísladóttir at the Institute of Archaeology, Iceland