Viking personal names and bynames
as elements in NRY place-names

Contents

  1. Bynames (nicknames) taken from "The Old Norse Name" (1977) Geirr Bassi Haraldsson (G. Fleck)
  2. The settlement of Iceland (landnámsöld)
  3. "Viking names found in Landnámabók" (2012) Sara L. Uckelman
  4. DRAFT: Handbook of English Place-Name Construction" (2014) Sara L. Uckelman
  5. "The Norse in Iceland" (May 2016) Davide Marco Zori
  6. "Dialect in the Viking-Age Scandinavian diaspora: the evidence of medieval minor names" (2016) Eleanor Rye at pages 62 to 128
  7. "Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 AD" (2011) Shane McLeod, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling
  8. "The one-eyed trickster and his names" (2014) Óðinn's trickster-aspect as evident in Heiti, Sagas and Eddas Jeremias Jokisch

"Viking names found in Landnámabók" (2012) Sara L. Uckelman

The following is a list of 558 ON masculine and 189 ON feminine personal names extracted from Landnámabók ("Book of Settlements"), compiled in Iceland in the early 12th century which describes the settlement (landnám) of Iceland by the Norse between 874 and 930. Of the 747 personal names:

While the written sources emphasise settlement from Norway, genetic evidence shows that the founder population of Iceland came from Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia: studies of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes indicate that:

Archæogenetic evidence suggests that the actual founding population included a higher proportion again of settlers from the Irish and British Isles: one study found that the mean Norse ancestry among Iceland's settlers was 56%, whereas in the current population the figure was 70%. It is thought likely that most of the settlers from Ireland and Scotland came as slaves, and therefore reproduced less successfully than higher-status settlers from Scandinavia, making them ancestors of a smaller proportion of the modern population.

Masculine Names

The following 116 ON masculine personal names (frequency sorted) were found 6 or more times:

Þorsteinn (m. 83), Þórðr (m. 72), Þorkell (m. 58), Þorbiǫrn (m. 55), Þórir (m. 55), Þorgeirr (m. 51), Helgi (m. 50), Þórarinn (m. 45), Ketill (m. 44), Biǫrn (m. 42), Þorgrímr (m. 41), Grímr (m. 32), Þórólfr (m. 30), Þorgils (m. 29), Einarr (m. 28), Eyvindr (m. 28), Þorvaldr (m. 28), Ormr (m. 27), Þormóðr (m. 25), Oddr (m. 24), Þorleifr (m. 24), Úlfr (m. 21), Brandr (m. 20), Hrólfr (m. 20), Óláfr (m. 20), Ásgeirr (m. 19), Bárðr (m. 19), Eyiólfr (m. 18), Halldórr (m. 17), Hallr (m. 17), Hrafn (m. 17), Sigurðr (m. 17), Atli (m. 16), Ásbiǫrn (m. 16), Ingialdr (m. 16), Eysteinn (m. 15), Skeggi (m. 15), Snorri (m. 15), Arnórr (m. 14), Hróaldr (m. 14), Steinn (m. 14), Steinólfr (m. 14), Ǫnundr (m. 14), Ásmundr (m. 13), Biarni (m. 13), Bǫðvarr (m. 13), Illugi (m. 13), Jǫrundr (m. 13), Már (m. 13), Þóroddr (m. 13), Eiríkr (m. 12), Hildir (m. 12), Þorfinnr (m. 12), Þrándr (m. 12), Ǫrn (m. 12), Auðun (m. 11), Egill (m. 11), Guðmundr (m. 11), Gunnarr (m. 11), Heriólfr (m. 11), Sigmundr (m. 11), Þorlákr (m. 11), Héðinn (m. 10), Ófeigr (m. 10), Vémundr (m. 10), Þorbrandr (m. 10), Ǫzurr (m. 10), Án (m. 9), Jón (m. 9), Kolbeinn (m. 9), Kollr (m. 9), Sǫlvi (m. 9), Þorleikr (m. 9), Þorvarðr (m. 9), Þróndr (m. 9), Ǫlvir (m. 9), Ǫrnólfr (m. 9), Ari (m. 8), Eilífr (m. 8), Finnr (m. 8), Geirmundr (m. 8), Gizurr (m. 8), Hallsteinn (m. 8), Haraldr (m. 8), Kiallakr (m. 8), Kolli (m. 8), Loftr (m. 8), Sturla (m. 8), Þórhallr (m. 8), Flosi (m. 7), Gísli (m. 7), Guðlaugr (m. 7), Gunnsteinn (m. 7), Hallvarðr (m. 7), Hólmsteinn (m. 7), Hrappr (m. 7), Hóskuldr (m. 7), Óleifr (m. 7), Refr (m. 7), Surtr (m. 7), Sveinbiǫrn (m. 7), Torfi (m. 7), Þorbergr (m. 7), Arngrímr (m. 6), Álfr (m. 6), Bergþórr (m. 6), Bersi (m. 6), Glúmr (m. 6), Hallbiǫrn (m. 6), Hámundr (m. 6), Hǫgni (m. 6), Kári (m. 6), Óttarr (m. 6), Sighvatr (m. 6), Steingrímr (m. 6), Þorberger (m. 6).


The following 116 ON masculine personal names (alpha sorted) were found 6 or more times:

Álfr (m. 6), Án (m. 9), Ari (m. 8), Arngrímr (m. 6), Arnórr (m. 14), Ásbiǫrn (m. 16), Ásgeirr (m. 19), Ásmundr (m. 13), Atli (m. 16), Auðun (m. 11), Bárðr (m. 19), Bergþórr (m. 6), Bersi (m. 6), Biarni (m. 13), Biǫrn (m. 42), Bǫðvarr (m. 13), Brandr (m. 20), Egill (m. 11), Eilífr (m. 8), Einarr (m. 28), Eiríkr (m. 12), Eyiólfr (m. 18), Eysteinn (m. 15), Eyvindr (m. 28), Finnr (m. 8), Flosi (m. 7), Geirmundr (m. 8), Gísli (m. 7), Gizurr (m. 8), Glúmr (m. 6), Grímr (m. 32), Gunnarr (m. 11), Gunnsteinn (m. 7), Guðlaugr (m. 7), Guðmundr (m. 11), Hallbiǫrn (m. 6), Halldórr (m. 17), Hallr (m. 17), Hallsteinn (m. 8), Hallvarðr (m. 7), Hámundr (m. 6), Haraldr (m. 8), Helgi (m. 50), Heriólfr (m. 11), Héðinn (m. 10), Hildir (m. 12), Hǫgni (m. 6), Hólmsteinn (m. 7), Hóskuldr (m. 7), Hrafn (m. 17), Hrappr (m. 7), Hróaldr (m. 14), Hrólfr (m. 20), Illugi (m. 13), Ingialdr (m. 16), Jón (m. 9), Jǫrundr (m. 13), Kári (m. 6), Ketill (m. 44), Kiallakr (m. 8), Kolbeinn (m. 9), Kolli (m. 8), Kollr (m. 9), Loftr (m. 8), Már (m. 13), Oddr (m. 24), Ófeigr (m. 10), Óláfr (m. 20), Óleifr (m. 7), Ǫlvir (m. 9), Ǫnundr (m. 14), Ormr (m. 27), Ǫrn (m. 12), Ǫrnólfr (m. 9), Óttarr (m. 6), Ǫzurr (m. 10), Refr (m. 7), Sighvatr (m. 6), Sigmundr (m. 11), Sigurðr (m. 17), Skeggi (m. 15), Snorri (m. 15), Sǫlvi (m. 9), Steinn (m. 14), Steingrímr (m. 6), Steinólfr (m. 14), Sturla (m. 8), Surtr (m. 7), Sveinbiǫrn (m. 7), Torfi (m. 7), Úlfr (m. 21), Vémundr (m. 10), Þórarinn (m. 45), Þorberger (m. 6), Þorbergr (m. 7), Þorbiǫrn (m. 55), Þorbrandr (m. 10), Þorfinnr (m. 12), Þorgeirr (m. 51), Þorgils (m. 29), Þorgrímr (m. 41), Þórhallr (m. 8), Þórir (m. 55), Þorkell (m. 58), Þorlákr (m. 11), Þorleifr (m. 24), Þorleikr (m. 9), Þóroddr (m. 13), Þórólfr (m. 30), Þormóðr (m. 25), Þorsteinn (m. 83), Þórðr (m. 72), Þorvaldr (m. 28), Þorvarðr (m. 9), Þrándr (m. 12), Þróndr (m. 9).


The following 71 ON masculine personal names (alpha sorted) were found between 4 and 5 times:

Arngeirr (m. <5), Ármóðr (m. <5), Ásbrandr (m. <5), Áskell (m. <5), Áslákr (m. <5), Bergr (m. <5), Brúni (m. <5), Bryniólfr (m. <5), Bǫdmóðr (m. <5), Bǫrkr (m. <5), Finnbogi (m. <5), Galti (m. <5), Geirr (m. <5), Gellir (m. <5), Gestr (m. <5), Gnúpr (m. <5), Grímólfr (m. <5), Gríss (m. <5), Guðleifr (m. <5), Gunniǫrn (m. <5), Gunnlaugr (m. <5), Gunnólfr (m. <5), Hallkell (m. <5), Hákon (m. <5), Hávarðr (m. <5), Hermundr (m. <5), Hialti (m. <5), Hiǫrleifr (m. <5), Hiǫrr (m. <5), Hrafnkell (m. <5), Hrani (m. <5), Hreiðarr (m. <5), Hróarr (m. <5), Ingólfr (m. <5), Ívarr (m. <5), Karl (m. <5), Kálfr (m. <5), Kárr (m. <5), Kiartan (m. <5), Klængr (m. <5), Koðrán (m. <5), Kolgrímr (m. <5), Kolr (m. <5), Konáll (m. <5), Mǫrór (m. <5), Oddi (m. <5), Otkell (m. <5), Rauðr (m. <5), Rúnólfr (m. <5), Sigfúss (m. <5), Skíði (m. <5), Skúli (m. <5), Skúmr (m. <5), Steinarr (m. <5), Steinmóðr (m. <5), Steinrǫðr (m. <5), Styrmir (m. <5), Sumarliði (m. <5), Svartr (m. <5), Svertingr (m. <5), Sæmundr (m. <5), Teitr (m. <5), Úlfar (m. <5), Úlfheðinn (m. <5), Valþiólfr (m. <5), Vestarr (m. <5), Vigfúss (m. <5), Þórhaddr (m. <5), Þorgestr (m. <5), Þórormr (m. <5), Þorviðr (m. <5).


The following 60 ON masculine personal names (alpha sorted) were found 3 times:

Aðils (m. 3), Arnbiǫrn (m. 3), Arnmóðr (m. 3), Ásmólfr (m. 3), Bolli (m. 3), Bǫlverkr (m. 3), Dufþakr (m. 3), Finni (m. 3), Finnvarðr (m. 3), Flóki (m. 3), Gautr (m. 3), Geiri (m. 3), Geirrǫðr (m. 3), Gils (m. 3), Grani (m. 3), Hafliði (m. 3), Hafr (m. 3), Hallgrímr (m. 3), Halli (m. 3), Haukr (m. 3), Hálfdan (m. 3), Hárekr (m. 3), Hlǫðver (m. 3), Hróðgeirr (m. 3), Hrómundr (m. 3), Hrærekr (m. 3), Hórðr (m. 3), Ísleifr (m. 3), Ísrauðr (m. 3), Jósteinn (m. 3), Jǫkull (m. 3), Karli (m. 3), Kleppiárn (m. 3), Kollsveinn (m. 3), Máni (m. 3), Niáll (m. 3), Oddleifr (m. 3), Pétr (m. 3), Snæbiǫrn (m. 3), Steinbiǫrn (m. 3), Steinþórr (m. 3), Svarthǫfði (m. 3), Sveinungr (m. 3), Sólmundr (m. 3), Tanni (m. 3), Tiórvi (m. 3), Tyrfingr (m. 3), Vermundr (m. 3), Vestmaðr (m. 3), Vébrandr (m. 3), Végestr (m. 3), Véþormr (m. 3), Vífill (m. 3), Þiðrandi (m. 3), Þióðólfr (m. 3), Þióðrekr (m. 3), Þrǫstr (m. 3), Ævarr (m. 3), Ǫrlygr (m. 3), Ǫlmóðr (m. 3).


The following 102 ON masculine personal names (alpha sorted) were found twice:

Alrekr (m. 2), Arinbiǫrn (m. 2), Arnaldr (m. 2), Arnoddr (m. 2), Arnríðr (m. 2), Álfgeirr (m. 2), Áli (m. 2), Áni (m. 2), Árni (m. 2), Ási (m. 2), Auðólfr (m. 2), Bárekr (m. 2), Beinir (m. 2), Biartmarr (m. 2), Biólan (m. 2), Biǫrnólfr (m. 2), Bótólfr (m. 2), Brǫndólfr (m. 2), Dagr (m. 2), Dálkr (m. 2), Eiðr (m. 2), Eindriði (m. 2), Endriði (m. 2), Erlendr (m. 2), Erlingr (m. 2), Erpr (m. 2), Friðleifr (m. 2), Fróði (m. 2), Gamli (m. 2), Geirleifr (m. 2), Geirólfr (m. 2), Geirsteinn (m. 2), Geirþiólfr (m. 2), Gísl (m. 2), Glædir (m. 2), Gormr (m. 2), Greniaðr (m. 2), Grettir (m. 2), Grímkell (m. 2), Griótgarðr (m. 2), Guðrøðr (m. 2), Gyrðr (m. 2), Hafþórr (m. 2), Haki (m. 2), Hallgeirr (m. 2), Hamall (m. 2), Hásteinn (m. 2), Hávarr (m. 2), Hergils (m. 2), Herrøðr (m. 2), Hersteinn (m. 2), Hlenni (m. 2), Hreinn (m. 2), Hrifla (m. 2), Hrolleifr (m. 2), Hrosskell (m. 2), Hrói (m. 2), Hrútr (m. 2), Ingimundr (m. 2), Ísólfr (m. 2), Kaðall (m. 2), Kali (m. 2), Ketilbiǫrn (m. 2), Kniúkr (m. 2), Knǫttr (m. 2), Kolbiǫrn (m. 2), Kolskeggr (m. 2), Kvistr (m. 2), Kýlan (m. 2), Lambi (m. 2), Leiðólfr (m. 2), Ormarr (m. 2), Ósvaldr (m. 2), Páll (m. 2), Sámr (m. 2), Skapti (m. 2), Skarpheðinn (m. 2), Skefill (m. 2), Skiǫldúlfr (m. 2), Skopti (m. 2), Skorri (m. 2), Skæringr (m. 2), Snǫrtr (m. 2), Sóti (m. 2), Starkaðr (m. 2), Starri (m. 2), Stórólfr (m. 2), Styrbiǫrn (m. 2), Tindr (m. 2), Úlfliótr (m. 2), Valbrandr (m. 2), Váli (m. 2), Verliði (m. 2), Véleifr (m. 2), Vésteinn (m. 2), Viðarr (m. 2), Víkingr (m. 2), Þorfiðr (m. 2), Þorgautr (m. 2), Þórálfr (m. 2), Ǫgmundr (m. 2), Ǫndóttr (m. 2).


The following 209 ON masculine personal names (alpha sorted) were found once:

Aðalsteinn (m. 1), Afavldr (m. 1), Alfarinn (m. 1), Arnis (m. 1), Arnkell (m. 1), Arnlaugr (m. 1), Arnliótr (m. 1), Arnsteinn (m. 1), Arnþórr (m. 1), Áskr (m. 1), Auðr (m. 1), Ádám (m. 1), Ásgautr (m. 1), Ásrøðr (m. 1), Ásvaldr (m. 1), Ávaldi (m. 1), Ávaldr (m. 1), Ávanger (m. 1), Barði (m. 1), Bauger (m. 1), Bálki (m. 1), Bekan (m. 1), Briningr (m. 1), Biarnheðinn (m. 1), Biálfi (m. 1), Biólfr (m. 1), Blæinger (m. 1), Bogi (m. 1), Bragi (m. 1), Brandi (m. 1), Brattr (m. 1), Breiðr (m. 1), Broddr (m. 1), Brúsi (m. 1), Darri (m. 1), Drafli (m. 1), Dufnall (m. 1), Dufniall (m. 1), Dugfúss (m. 1), Dýri (m. 1), Eldgrímr (m. 1), Eldiárn (m. 1), Elfráðr (m. 1), Elliðagrímr (m. 1), Eyfrǫðr (m. 1), Eyiarr (m. 1), Eylaugr (m. 1), Eymundr (m. 1), Eyþiófr (m. 1), Fálki (m. 1), Finngeirr (m. 1), Fleinn (m. 1), Forni (m. 1), Freysteinn (m. 1), Freyviðr (m. 1), Friðmundr (m. 1), Fǫstólfr (m. 1), Garðarr (m. 1), Gaukr (m. 1), Gautrekr (m. 1), Gálmr (m. 1), Geitir (m. 1), Giafvaldr (m. 1), Gripr (m. 1), Guðþormr (m. 1), Gufi (m. 1), Gunnvaldr (m. 1), Guttormr (m. 1), Hafgrímr (m. 1), Hafliótr (m. 1), Hallaðr (m. 1), Hallfreðr (m. 1), Hallgils (m. 1), Hallormr (m. 1), Harðnefr (m. 1), Harri (m. 1), Háleygr (m. 1), Hálfr (m. 1), Háls (m. 1), Heggr (m. 1), Herfinnr (m. 1), Hergrímr (m. 1), Herlaugr (m. 1), Hiallkárr (m. 1), Hiálmólfr (m. 1), Hiǫrtr (m. 1), Hnaki (m. 1), Holti (m. 1), Hólmkell (m. 1), Hraði (m. 1), Hrafsi (m. 1), Hrollaugr (m. 1), Hrossbiǫrn (m. 1), Hróðmarr (m. 1), Hróðólfr (m. 1), Hundi (m. 1), Hundólfr (m. 1), Húnbogi (m. 1), Húnrøðr (m. 1), Hvati (m. 1), Hyrningr (m. 1), Hæringr (m. 1), Hængr (m. 1), Hǫggvandill (m. 1), Ingvarr (m. 1), Játmundr (m. 1), Játvarðr (m. 1), Jófreiðr (m. 1), Jólgeirr (m. 1), Jósurr (m. 1), Kalman (m. 1), Kiaran (m. 1), Kiǫtvi (m. 1), Klaufi (m. 1), Klyppr (m. 1), Knǫrr (m. 1), Kormákr (m. 1), Kóri (m. 1), Krumr (m. 1), Kúgaldi (m. 1), Melpatrikr (m. 1), Móðólfr (m. 1), Mǫttull (m. 1), Naddoddr (m. 1), Nagli (m. 1), Narfi (m. 1), Nefsteinn (m. 1), Nereiðr (m. 1), Nikolás (m. 1), Nikulás (m. 1), Oddbiǫrn (m. 1), Oddgeirr (m. 1), Oddmar (m. 1), Óblauðr (m. 1), Óli (m. 1), Ǫgurr (m. 1), Ǫngull (m. 1), Órækia (m. 1), Óspakr (m. 1), Ósvífr (m. 1), Ótryggr (m. 1), Patrekr (m. 1), Ragi (m. 1), Ragnarr (m. 1), Rauðúlfr (m. 1), Raumr (m. 1), Ráðormr (m. 1), Reistr (m. 1), Reyrketill (m. 1), Roðrekr (m. 1), Rǫgnvaldr (m. 1), Rǫnguðr (m. 1), Saxi (m. 1), Sigarr (m. 1), Sigfastr (m. 1), Sigtryggr (m. 1), Sigvaldi (m. 1), Skagi (m. 1), Skamkell (m. 1), Skati (m. 1), Skálpr (m. 1), Skialdbiǫrn (m. 1), Skiálgr (m. 1), Skorageirr (m. 1), Skólmr (m. 1), Smiðkell (m. 1), Smiðr (m. 1), Sokki (m. 1), Stafngrímr (m. 1), Steinfiðr (m. 1), Steini (m. 1), Styrkárr (m. 1), Styrr (m. 1), Súlki (m. 1), Svanr (m. 1), Svarðkell (m. 1), Svartkell (m. 1), Svávarr (m. 1), Sveinn (m. 1), Sæbiǫrn (m. 1), Sæmingr (m. 1), Sǫkkólfr (m. 1), Sǫlgi (m. 1), Sǫlvarr (m. 1), Sǫxólfr (m. 1), Torráðr (m. 1), Tryggvi (m. 1), Úlfkell (m. 1), Vaði (m. 1), Vestliði (m. 1), Vébiǫrn (m. 1), Véføðr (m. 1), Vékell (m. 1), Véþorn (m. 1), Vilbradr (m. 1), Vilgeirr (m. 1), Vígbióðr (m. 1), Víglundr (m. 1), Vígsterkr (m. 1), Þangbrandr (m. 1), Þengill (m. 1), Þióðarr (m. 1), Þióstarr (m. 1), Þióstólfr (m. 1), Þorgnýr (m. 1), Þorliótr (m. 1), Þórhalli (m. 1), Þrasi (m. 1), Þráinn (m. 1).

Feminine Names

The following 38 ON feminine personal names (frequency sorted) were found 6 or more times:

Þuríðr (f. 58), Þorgerðr (f.42), Þórdís (f. 40), Helga (f. 36), Þórunn (f. 34), Guðrún (f. 24), Þóra (f. 23), Valgerðr (f.20), Yngvildr (f. 20), Vigdís (f. 19), Þorbiǫrg (f. 19), Jórunn (f. 17), Steinunn (f.15), Þorkatla (f. 15), Halldóra (f. 14), Gróa (f. 13), Halla (f. 13), Álof (f. 10), Ástríðr (f. 10), Hallbera (f. 10), Þorlaug (f. 10), Hallveig (f. 9), Herdís (f. 9), Rannveig (f. 9), Æsa (f. 9), Ingibjǫrg (f. 8), Sigríðr (f. 8), Þórhildr (f. 8), Arnóra(f. 7), Gunnhildr (f. 7), Þórarna (f. 7), Ásdís (f. 6), Guðríðr (f. 6), Hallgerðr (f. 6), Hlíf (f. 6), Kolfinna (f. 6), Salgerðr (f. 6), Þórný (f. 6).


The following 38 ON feminine personal names (alpha sorted) were found 6 or more times:

Æsa (f. 9), Álof (f. 10), Arnóra(f. 7), Ásdís (f. 6), Ástríðr (f. 10), Gróa (f. 13), Gunnhildr (f. 7), Guðríðr (f. 6), Guðrún (f. 24), Halla (f. 13), Hallbera (f. 10), Halldóra (f. 14), Hallgerðr (f. 6), Hallveig (f. 9), Helga (f. 36), Herdís (f. 9), Hlíf (f. 6), Ingibjǫrg (f. 8), Jórunn (f. 17), Kolfinna (f. 6), Rannveig (f. 9), Salgerðr (f. 6), Sigríðr (f. 8), Steinunn (f.15), Valgerðr (f.20), Vigdís (f. 19), Yngvildr (f. 20), Þóra (f. 23), Þórarna (f. 7), Þorbiǫrg (f. 19), Þórdís (f. 40), Þorgerðr (f.42), Þórhildr (f. 8), Þorkatla (f. 15), Þorlaug (f. 10), Þórný (f. 6), Þórunn (f. 34), Þuríðr (f. 58).


The following 42 ON feminine personal names (alpha sorted) were found between 3 and 5 times:

Álfgerðr (f. <5), Arnbjǫrg (f. <5), Arngerðr (f. <5), Arndís (f. <5), Arnkatla (f. <5), Arnleif (f. <5), Ásgerðr (f. <5), Ásný (f. <5), Ásvǫ (f. <5)r, Auðr (f. <5), Bergþóra (f. <5), Bjǫrg (f. <5), Dalla (f. <5), Finna (f. <5), Friðgerðr (f. <5), Geirhildr (f. <5), Geirlaug (f. <5), Geirríðr (f. <5), Gerðr (f. <5), Guðlaug (f. <5), Guðný (f. <5), Hallfríðr (f. <5), Hallkatla (f. <5), Hróðný (f. <5), Ingunn (f. <5), Ísgerðr (f. <5), Járngerðr (f. <5), Jóra (f. <5), Jófríðr (f. <5), Jóra (f. <5), Jóreiðr (f. <5), Oddný (f. <5), Otkatla (f. <5), Ragnheiðr (f. <5), Ragnhildr (f. <5), Riúpa (f. <5), Signý (f. <5), Þióðhildr (f. <5), Þórey (f. <5), Þorlót (f. <5), Valdís (f. <5), Vilborg (f. <5).


The following 109 ON feminine personal names (alpha sorted) were found once or twice:

Ægileif (f. <2), Aldís (f. <2), Arneiðr (f. <2), Arnfríðr (f. <2), Arngunnr (f. <2), Arnþruðr (f. <2), Álfdís (f. <2), Álfeiðr (f. <2), Ása (f. <2), Ásbjórg (f. <2), Ásbiórg (f. <2), Áshildr (f. <2), Ásleif (f. <2), Ásta (f. <2), Bera (f. <2), Bergdís (f. <2), Bergliót (f. <2), Birna (f. <2), Biargey (f. <2), Biollok (f. <2), Bót (f. <2), Bótey (f. <2), Bryngerðr (f. <2), Dagrún (f. <2), Dís (f. <2), Dýrfinna (f. <2), Eðna (f. <2), Eirný (f. <2), Eydís (f. <2), Eyia (f. <2), Fastný (f. <2), Fiórleif (f. <2), Fregerðr (f. <2), Geirbiórg (f. <2), Geirný (f. <2), Giaflaug (f. <2), Gréloð (f. <2), Gríma (f. <2), Guðbiorg (f. <2), Guðleif (f. <2), Gunnvǫr (f. <2), Hafþóra (f. <2), Hallbjorg (f. <2), Halldís (f. <2), Hallvor (f. <2), Heiðr (f. <2), Heimlaug (f. <2), Herríðr (f. <2), Herþrúðr (f. <2), Hervor (f. <2), Hildigunnr (f. <2), Hiálp (f. <2), Hiálmgerðr (f. <2), Hrafnhildr (f. <2), Hrefna (f. <2), Húngerðr (f. <2), Iðunn (f. <2), Ingigerðr (f. <2), Ingríðr (f. <2), Ingileif (f. <2), Ingvǫldr (f. <2), Jódís (f. <2), Kaðlín (f. <2), Katla (f. <2), Ketilríðr (f. <2), Kiǫlvǫr (f. <2), Kolgríma (f. <2), Melkorka (f. <2), Miǫll (f. <2), Móeiðr (f. <2), Myrgiol (f. <2), Mýrún (f. <2), Mæva (f. <2), Niðbjǫrg (f. <2), Oddbiǫrg (f. <2), Oddfríðr (f. <2), Oddlaug (f. <2), Oddleif (f. <2), Ormhildr (f. <2), Ósk (f. <2), Ondót (f. <2), Rafǫrta (f. <2), Reginleif (f. <2), Salbiǫrg (f. <2), Snælaug (f. <2), Sólveig (f. <2), Steinvǫr (f. <2), Sæhildr (f. <2), Svana (f. <2), Svanlaug (f. <2), Sæuðr (f. <2), Sǫlvǫr (f. <2), Þióðgerðr (f. <2), Þorfinna (f. <2), Þorgríma (f. <2), Þórelfr (f. <2), Þorleif (f. <2), Þórodda (f. <2), Þórvé (f. <2), Þórvǫr (f. <2), Þraslaug (f. <2), Úlfeiðr (f. <2), Úlfhildr (f. <2), Úlfrún (f. <2), Védís (f. <2), Vélaug (f. <2), Véný (f. <2), Vilgerðr (f. <2), Ýrr (f. <2).

Bynames (nicknames) taken from "The Old Norse Name" (1977) Geirr Bassi Haraldsson (G. Fleck)

The following is a list of bynames (nicknames) taken from "The Old Norse Name", by Geirr Bassi Haraldsson (G. Fleck). Dr. Fleck collected his data from three main sources, the "Landnámabók", the "Íslendingasögur", and Snorri's "Heimskringla". Some of these sagas are more trustworthy than others as historical sources; the bynames below have all been extracted from the "Landnámabók".

A few notes before we proceed to the list: there are essentially two types of bynames:

  1. one follows the given name as a second word
  2. the second is prefixed to the given name to form a compound word

For example, kráka 'crow' would follow the given name, e.g. Þorsteinn kráka 'Þorsteinn the crow,' while Kráku- 'crow' is a prefix, e.g. Kráku-Þorsteinn 'Crow-Þorsteinn'. Bynames that are prefixed to the given name are identified in the lists in two ways:

  1. they are capitalized, and they end in a dash, meaning that they are hypenated with the given name
  2. bynames that follow the given name do not have the dash and are not capitalized, as was usual in Norse naming.

While most of the bynames are used by both men and women, there are a few that take different forms depending on the gender. A good way to tell the difference is that the feminine forms will use the definite article in rather than inn, and will end in a instead of i, generally.

The list is the entire list of bynames, in alphabetical order.

Bynames

Byname Meaning Frequency
ábóti abbot 1
allsherjargði high-priest 1
inn ánauðgi oppressed 1
árbót year-blessing, harvest 1
askasmiðr shipwright 1
auga eye 1
aurriði salmon-trout 1
austmaðr east-man, man from continental Scandinavia 4
austmannaskelfir terror of the east-men 1
inn austrœni easterner 2
in auða rich 3
inn auðgi rich 12
Bagal- Crozier- 1
in bareyska woman from the Hebrides 1
Barna- child, children 1
barnakarl friend to children 1
bast bast, cord 1
beigaldi weak, sickly 2
beiskaldi gripe, nag, bitch 1
bekkjarbót pride of the benches, bride 1
bekkr bench, brook 1
belgr pelt, skin, hide-bag 1
berbeinn bare-leg 1
berserkjabani berserks-bane 1
berserkr berserk 1
beytill banger, horse-penis 1
Bifru- Beaver- 1
bíldr ax, ax-blade 2
birtingr trout 1
bitra bitterness 1
bjarki bear-cub 1
Bjarneyja- Bear Island- 1
bjarnylr bear-warmth, able to remain warm in winter 1
bjálki beam, rafter 1
bláfauskr swarthy old man 1
blákinn swarthy-cheek 2
bláskegg black-beard 1
blátǫnn black-tooth 1
blesi blaze, white star on a horse's forehead 1
inn blindi blind 1
blindingatrjóa peg-pole 1
blígr staring, gazing 1
Blót- Heathen Sacrifice- 1
Blund- Doze-, Slumber-, Blink- 1
blundr sleep, slumber 2
blǫðruskalli bladder-baldpate 2
blǫnduhorn mixing-horn 1
bogsveigir bow-swayer, archer 1
Brand- Burn-, Arson- 1
brækir brack (water) 2
breiðr broad, fat 1
breiðskeggr broad-bearded 1
Brennu- Burned-, Arson-Victim- 1
brimill large seal 1
Brodd- Spike-, Bull-Goad- 1
brún brown 2
Brunda- Heat-, Rut-, Mating- 1
buna hang-stocking, one with his stocking hanging down his leg 1
bundinfóti one with bound feet 1
bunhauss gash-skull 1
burlufótr clumsy-foot, -gait 1
búandi farmer 1
byrðusmjr chest-butter 1
bægifótr gimp, limp-leg 1
bǫllr ball, glans penis 1
Dala- Dale-, from the Dales 3
inn danski Dane, from Denmark 2
dettiáss thud-beam 1
Digr- Stout-, Fat- 1
inn digra stout, fat 1
inn digri stout, fat 7
in djúpúðga deep, subtle, wise 1
inn dofni drowsy, dopey 1
inn draumspaki dream-reader 1
drápastúfr poetaster, bad poet 1
drífa snowfall, snow-drift 1
Drumb- Stump-, Dry Log- 1
dúfunef dove-nose, dove-beak 2
dýr animal, deer 1
inn egðski a man from Agðir 1
eikikrókr oaken-crook 1
eldr fire 1
inn eldri elder, older 1
inn enski Englishman 1
eyverska woman from the Orkney Islands 1
inn eyverski man from the Orkney Islands 1
inn fagri handsome 3
farmaðr sea-farer 1
farserkr travel-shirt 1
feilan wolf-cub 1
fiskreki fish-driver whale 1
inn fíflski foolish, moronic 1
Fjarska- Distant-, Afar- 1
in flamska woman from Flanders 1
flatnefr flat-nose 1
Flugu- Murderer- 1
flǫskubak flask-back 1
flǫskuskegg flask-beard 1
freysgoði priest of Freyr 1
inn fróði learned, wise 6
fullspakr fully wise, very wise 1
fylsenni foal-forehead 1
gagarr barker, dog 1
galti boar 1
in gamla old 1
inn gamli old 32
gandr witchcraft, sorcery 1
geirr spear 1
geit nanny-goat 1
gellir yeller, screamer 1
gerpir brave, daring man 1
gígja fiddle, eleoquent lawyer 1
gjallandi shrieking 2
inn glaði glad, happy 1
gleðill fun, good cheer 1
Glíru- wink-, Blink- 1
glóra gleam, sparkle 1
glǫmmuðr blusterer 1
gneisti spark 1
Gnúpa- Stoop-, Droop- 1
gnúpa crouch, stoop 1
inn goði priest, local leader 5
goði priest, local leader 17
inn grá gray 1
gráfeldarmúli graycloak-snout 1
gráfeldr gray fur coat/cloak 1
inn grái gray 2
grettir scowler 1
gríss shoat, piglet 1
gufa smoke, steam 1
Gull- Gold- 1
gullberi gold-bearer 1
gullskeggr gold-beard 1
gylðir howler, wolf 1
Gǫngu- Walk- 1
gyðja priestess 2
Hafnar- Haven-, Harbor- 1
hafnarlykill haven-key 1
hafrsþjó buck's thigh 1
haklangr long-chin/cheek 1
hani rooster 1
harðfari fast-traveller 1
haugabrjótr cairn-breaker, grave-robber 1
inn haukdœlski man from the Hawk-Dale 1
hauknefr hawk-nose, hawk-beak 1
hausakljúfr skull-cleaver 1
haustmyrkr autumn (early) dusk 1
Há- High- 1
Hafr- Billygoat- 2
inn háðsami scoffing 1
hákr hake, fish 1
hálftrǫll half-troll 1
háls neck, throat 1
inn hárfagri fair-hair 1
háleyski man from Helgoland 2
hálmi straw 3
inn halti halt, lame 4
inn hamrammi strongly-built 2
inn hávi tall, impressive 4
hegri heron 1
heiðmenningr mercenary 1
Hella- Flat-stone, Slate- 1
inn helgi holy 5
heljarskinn swarthy-skin 2
helluflagi surprise-attack 1
inn heppni lucky, happy 1
herkja one who exerts himself utterly 1
hersir chieftain, local leader 6
Hesta- Horse- 1
hestr horse 2
hestageldir horse-gelder 1
hesthǫfði horse-head 1
hilditǫnn battle-tooth/tusk 1
híma loiterer, dreamer 1
hímaldr laggard 1
Hítdælakappi Hítdale-warrior 1
hialtlendingr Shetlander 1
hiálmr helmet 1
Hiálmun- Helmet- 1
hiǫrtr hart, stag 1
hjalti (sword) hilt-knob 3
hlammandi shouting 1
Hlíðmannagodi priest of the men from Hlíð 1
hlymreksfari limerick-traveller 1
Hlǫðu- Storehouse-, Barn- 1
hnappraz button-arse 1
hœngr male salmon 2
Hof- Temple-, (King's) Court- 1
hǫggvinkinna cut-cheek 2
hǫggvinkinni cut-cheek 2
hokinn crooked, bent 1
hokinrazi crooked-arse 1
holbarki braggart 2
Hólmgǫngu holm-gang, duel 4
holmðr cleft-palate 2
Holta- Wood-, Forest- 1
holtaskalli wood-skull 1
horn horn 1
hornabrjótr horn-breaker 1
Hólm holm, small island 1
hólmasól holm-sun 1
Hrafna- Raven- 1
hringja buckle 1
hringr ring 1
hryggr afflicted, sad, grieved 1
hrogn roe, spawn 2
inn hugprúði stout-hearted 1
Hunda- Hound-, Dog- 1
húslangr longhall-builder 1
hvalmagi whale-might 1
hvalró whale-calmness 1
hvikatimbr timber-quaker 1
hvítaský white cloud 1
hvítbeinn white leg 1
hyrna ax-blade horn 1
hýnef downy-nose, one with a tuft of hair on the end of the nose 1
hærukollr hoary-head 1
Hǫfða- Head- 1
hǫfði head 1
hǫggvandi hewer, headsman 1
Hǫrða- Hǫrðalander 1
inn hǫrzki man from Hǫrðaland 2
Hvamm- Grassy Slope- 2
inn hvassi sharp, keen 2
inn hvíti white 15
igrár grayish 1
illbreiðr broad-sole, flat-foot 1
inn illi evil, bad 2
illingr evil man 1
illugi bad-thought, evil-mind 2
inn írski Irish 2
jafnkollr even-mind, level-head 1
jarlakappi champion of earls 1
jarlsskáld earl's skald 1
járnsíða iron-side 1
Jótun- Giant- 1
kaldmunnr cold-mouth 1
kamban lame, crippled 1
kampi whiskers, beard 1
kanoki (church) canon 1
kappi champion 3
karlhǫfði carved figurehead 1
karlsefni man's-equal, he-man 1
Kaða- Hen- 1
katla little kettle 1
inn katneski man from Caithness 1
keiliselgr cone-peak, mountain 1
keilismúli cone-peak, mountain 1
kengr crook, horseshoe-formed crook of metal, bend, bight 1
kerlinganef hag's-nose 1
kimbi bundle, package 1
kjálki jawbone 2
kjǫlfari keel-traveller 1
klaka twitter, chirp 1
klakkhǫfði saddlepommel-head 1
klaufi cleft-foot, clumsy boor 1
kleggi horse-fly 1
kleykir person in trouble or in disgrace 1
knarrarbringa merchantship-bosom, big tits 1
knappr knob, button 2
kneif nippers, tongs 1
kné knee 1
knýtir knitter, person who knits 1
kolbrún coal-brow, black eye-brows 1
Kolbrúnarskáld skald with black eyebrows 1
kornamúli grain-snout 2
korni grain 1
korpr corby, crow 1
krafla crawl, paw, scratch 1
kráka crow 3
kraki bean-pole, scrawny runt 1
Kráku- Crow- 2
krákunef crow-nose, crow-beak 1
in kristna Christian 1
inn kristni Christian 1
krókr hook, wily, crooked 2
kroppa hump, hunchback 1
Krǫmu- Pinch-, Press- 1
kuggi cog, a kind of ship 1
kúla ball, knob, hunchback 1
kváran shoe, boot 1
Kveld- Evening- 1
inn kyrri quiet, gentle 1
kǫgurr fringed cloak, fringe 1
kǫrtr short, short penis 1
kǫttr cat 1
læknir leech, doctor 2
lafskegg wag-beard, dangle-beard 1
inn lági low, insignificant 2
lambi lamb 3
inn landverski man from the country 1
langhǫfði long-head 1
laxakarl salmon-man 1
leðrháls leather-neck 1
leggr leg 1
leifr abandoned, left out 1
lína line 1
in ljósa nurse, midwife 1
loðbrók shaggy-pants 1
loðinhǫði shaggy-head 1
loðinkinni shaggy-cheeked 1
loki loop on a thread 1
Lón- Inlet- 1
lútandi bowing-down, grovelling 1
Lǫg- Law-, Legislator- 1
lǫgmaðr law-man, lawyer 1
lǫngubak ling-back, fish-back 1
Mág- Kinsman-, Relative- 1
Mána- Moon- 1
máni moon 2
mannvitsbrekka hill of man's wit, paragon of wisdom 1
meinfretr stink-fart, harm-fart 2
Mela- Wild-Oats- [place name] 1
inn mikli great, large 4
Miðfjarðar- Mið-Fjord- 1
miðlungr middling, average 1
in mikla great, large 1
mjǫksiglandi much-sailing, far-travelling 3
mjóbeinn slim-leg, girlish 1
mjódœlingr Mjódale man 1
in mjóva slim 1
inn mjóvi slim 4
Molda- Mould-, Earth- 1
mosháls moss-neck 1
mostrarskegg bearded man from Mostr in Norway 1
muðr mouth 1
Músa- Mouse- 1
Mýra- Mire-, Moor-, Myrr- 1
Nafar- Gimlet-, Drill- 1
inn norrœni Norwegian 1
inn óargi virtuous 2
ofláti dandy, gaudy person 1
orðlokarr word-plane, one who shapes his words carefully 1
ormstunga serpent-tongue 1
in óborna unborn, illigitimate 1
inn óði mad, frantic, raging 1
ógæfa unlucky 1
óþveginn unwashed 1
inn ǫrvi speedy 2
pái peacock, splendid man 1
inn prúði stately, proud 2
inn rakki straight, upright 2
inn rammi strong 7
ranglátr unjust, vicious 1
Rauða- Iron-Ore- 1
rauðfeldr red-cloak 2
inn rauði red 10
rauðkinn red-cheek 1
rauðr red 2
raumr huge, clownish person 1
refr fox 1
refskegg fox-beard 1
reyðarsíða trout-bank, whale-coast 1
reyðr red whale, trout 1
Reyni- Try-, Attempt- 1
inn ríki mighty, rich 4
rotinn broken 1
rugga cradle for a baby 1
rymgylta runaway-sow 1
saurr mud, dirt, excrement 1
sekr outlaw, exile 1
Sel- Shed- 1
Sela- Seal- 1
sjóna seeress 1
sjóni seer 1
skagi low cape/headland 1
Skáld- Skald-, Poet- 5
Skalla- Bald-pate- 1
skalli bald-pate 1
skapti shaft-maker 1
skarfr cormorant 1
skattkaupandi tax-collector 1
skál bowl, cup, balance-scale 1
skálaglamm tinkle-scales, concerned with hard cash 1
skáldaspillir skald-dispoiler, plagiarist 1
skálpr blabber, gossip 1
Skegg- Beard- 1
skeggi islander, rough-neck 1
skegglauss beardless 1
skeiðarkinn weftbeater-chin 1
skeðarnef weftbeater-nose 1
skeifr skew, crooked 1
skeljamoli seashell-shard 1
skerjablesi skerry-blaze 1
skinfaxi sheen-mane, shiny mane 1
Skinna- Skin-, fur-Trader 1
inn skjálgi squinting 4
Skjaldar- Shield- 1
skotakollr Scot-hill 1
skógarnef forest-nose 1
skrauti splendid, fancy 1
inn (snar)skygna swift-eyed 1
skytja marksman, shooter 1
skǫkull cart-pole 1
slagakollr brisket, cut of meat 1
sleggja sledge-hammer 1
Sleitu- Trick-, Fraud- 2
Sléttu- Smooth- 2
slítandi tearing, slitting 1
sløngvandbaugi ring-slinger 1
slœkidrengr slender as a youth 1
smiðjudrumbr smithy-drum, anvil 1
smiðr smith, metal-smith 6
smjǫr butter 1
smjǫrkengr butter-hook 1
snara snare 1
snarfari swift-traveller 1
snepill snip, flap, earlobe 1
sneypir snipper, gelder 1
inn snjalli swift 1
snúinbrók twisted-tartan 1
snæþrima snow-clash 1
Spak- Wise-, Gentle- 1
in spaka wise 2
inn spaki wise 8
spákona prophetess 2
spǫrr sparrow 2
stafr staff, stave 1
stikublígr yardstick-gaze 1
stjarna star 1
inn sterki strong, powerful 15
stoti one who walks with a stiff or short trippling walk 1
inn stórhǫggvi great-slasher 1
inn strangi strong 1
strúgr pride 1
stǫng staff 1
inn suðreyski South-Islander 1
sundafyllir sound-filler, able to fill a bay with fish by magic 1
surtr black 1
súgandi sucking, suckling 1
súrr sour 1
suða south 2
suðeyingr South-Islander 2
svarfaðr riot, rumble 1
inn svarti black 8
svartiþurs black-giant, black-troll 1
sviði agony, burning pain 1
Sviðu- Singe-, Sheep-Head-Singe- 1
Svína- Swine-, Pig- 1
sælendingr Sealander, Dane 1
sælingr fortunate 1
tálkni gasp 1
Tin- Tin- 1
tinteinn tin-spit 1
titlingr sparrow 1
tjaldstœðingr camp-grounder, man from the tent-place 1
Torf- Turf-, Sod-, Peat- 1
torfi turf, sod, peat 2
tǫskubak pouch-back, purse-back 2
trandill split-stick 2
inn trausti trustworthy 1
trefill ragged rag, shred 1
tréfótr tree-leg, peg-leg 1
trumbubein trumpet-leg 1
inn tryggvi true, honest 1
Tungu- Tongue- 3
tvennumbrúni double-brows 1
inn ungi young 2
upplendingr Upplander (Sweden) 1
váganef weigh-balance-nose 1
vaggagði squat-wiggle 1
Valla- Field- 2
vámúli woe-snout, bad-mouth 1
vandræðiskáld difficult skald 1
vápni weapons 2
veðr ram, male sheep 1
vífill weevil, beetle 1
Víga- Battle- 7
Víkinga- Viking- 1
vikingrviking4
viligísl lust-hostage, slave to sexual desire 1
víss wise, knowing, learned 1
væna promising, hopeful, fair 1
inn væni promising, fair 1
vǫðvi muscle 1
Vǫlu- Prophetess- 1
vǫlubrjótr witch-breaker, exorcist 1
Vǫrsa- man from Vǫrs (Norway) 1
inn yngri younger 1
þegjandi silent 1
þistill thistle 1
þjófi thudder, whistler 1
þorskabítr codfish-biter 1
þorskafjarðargoði Codfish-Fjord-priest 1
þrymr loud noise, alarm 1
þunnkárr curly-head 1
þunnskeggr thin-beard 1
þursasprengir giant-destroyer 1
þurs giant, troll 3
þvari spear, dart 1
þyna belly, abdomen 1
þynning skinny, scrawny 1
þongull branch of seaweed 1
ørrabein scar-leg 1
ørrabeinsstjúpr scar-leg's step-son 1
Øxna- Oxen- 1
øxnabroddr ox-goad, ox-spike 1
øxnamegin ox-might, ox-strength 1
œðikollr mad-head, wild man 1
ǫlfúss desirous of beer 1
ǫndurr snow-shoe 1
ǫngull angle, fish-hook 1
ǫrðigskeggi bristle-beard 1
ǫrn eagle 1

Specifically Feminine Bynames

Byname Meaning Frequency
bekkjarbót bride 1
eyverska woman from the Orkney Islands 1
gyðja priestess 2
in bareyska woman from the Hebrides 1
in flamska woman from Flanders 1
knarrarbringa merchant-ship bosom, big tits 1
sjóna seeress 1
spákona prophetess 2
Vǫlu- Prophetess- 1

The settlement of Iceland (landnámsöld)

The settlement of Iceland is generally believed to have begun in the second half of the ninth century, when Norse settlers migrated across the North Atlantic. Traditionally, the Icelandic Age of Settlement is considered to have lasted from 874 to 930, at which point most of the island had been claimed and Alþingi, the assembly of the Icelandic Commonwealth, was founded at Þingvellir. The reasons for the migration are uncertain: later in the Middle Ages Icelanders themselves tended to cite civil strife brought about by the ambitions of the Norwegian king Harald I of Norway, but modern historians focus on deeper factors, such as a shortage of arable land in Scandinavia. Unlike Britain and Ireland, Iceland was unsettled land and could be claimed without conflict with existing inhabitants.

Written sources consider the age of settlement in Iceland to have begun with settlement by Ingólfur Arnarson around 874, for he was the first to sail to Iceland with the purpose of settling the land. Archaeological evidence shows that extensive human settlement of the island began at this time, and

"that the whole country was occupied within a couple of decades towards the end of the 9th century. Analyses of strontium in human bones show, however, that immigrants continued to arrive in Iceland throughout the 10th century."
The Colonization of Iceland in Light of Isotope Analyses Journal of the North Atlantic 2014 (sp7), 137-145, Orri Vésteinsson, Hildur Gestsdóttir

Estimates of the number of people who migrated to the country during the Age of Settlement range between 4,300 and 24,000, with estimates of the number of initial settlers ranging between 311 and 436.

While the written sources emphasise settlement from Norway, genetic evidence shows that the founder population of Iceland came from Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia: studies of mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomes indicate that:

Archæogenetic evidence suggests that the actual founding population included a higher proportion again of settlers from the Irish and British Isles: one study found that the mean Norse ancestry among Iceland's settlers was 56%, whereas in the current population the figure was 70%. It is thought likely that most of the settlers from Ireland and Scotland came as slaves, and therefore reproduced less successfully than higher-status settlers from Scandinavia, making them ancestors of a smaller proportion of the modern population.

"Opportunities to directly study the founding of a human population and its subsequent evolutionary history are rare. Using genome sequence data from 27 ancient Icelanders, we demonstrate that they are a combination of Norse, Gaelic, and admixed individuals. We further show that these ancient Icelanders are markedly more similar to their source populations in Scandinavia and the British-Irish Isles than to contemporary Icelanders, who have been shaped by 1100 years of extensive genetic drift. Finally, we report evidence of unequal contributions from the ancient founders to the contemporary Icelandic gene pool. These results provide detailed insights into the making of a human population that has proven extraordinarily useful for the discovery of genotype-phenotype associations."
Ancient genomes from Iceland reveal the making of a human population Science 1 June 2018, Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 1028-1032

Though the notion that population pressure drove migration to Iceland remains unsupported in the academic literature, a number of reasons have been offered for the settlement of Iceland:

  1. available land would have been attractive to Viking Age Scandinavians, especially given the relatively warm climate in Iceland at the time.
  2. the observation of valuable resources, such as walrus ivory, made Iceland attractive to those looking to profit on trade.
  3. greater resistance to Viking incursions in the British isles and continental Europe in the late ninth century pushed Vikings to seek more peaceful opportunities.
  4. medieval written sources emphasize how Harald Fairhair's centralization of Norway and imposition of burdensome taxes on farmers encouraged farmers to migrate to Iceland.

Written sources say some settlers took land freely, others bought lands from earlier settlers, some were gifted land by earlier settlers, and that some settlers took lands from others through the use of force or threat of force. Lands were likely not rented during the Age of settlement. Medievalist Hans Kuhn argued that lands were given away or taken freely because earlier settlers had no need for such extensive lands. Historian Gunnar Karlsson notes that it could be rational for earlier settlers to encourage new settlers to settle lands nearby so as to ease maintenance of cattle and slaves, and as insurance in times of crisis.

Ari Thorgilsson claims in Íslendingabók that the country had been "fully settled" by 930. Correspondingly, Landnámabók suggests that within about sixty years, all the usable land had been taken; it mentions 1,500 farm and place names, and more than 3,500 people, arranged in a geographical fashion.

In Icelandic history, therefore, the age of settlement is considered to have ended in the year 930 with the establishment of Alþingi; at this point the Icelandic Commonwealth period is considered to begin. Archeological evidence shows, however "that immigrants continued to arrive in Iceland throughout the 10th century" and the authors of one study speculate that "continued immigration may have been needed to sustain the population".

Landnámabók claims that the first Norseman to rest his feet on Icelandic soil was a viking by the name of Naddoddr. Naddoddr stayed for only a short period of time, but gave the country a name: Snæland (Land of Snow). He was followed by the Swede Garðar Svavarsson, who was the first to stay over winter. At some time around 860, a storm pushed his ship far to the north until he reached the eastern coast of Iceland. Garðar approached the island from the east, sailed westward along the coast and then north, building a house in Húsavík. He completed a full circle, circumnavigating the island and establishing that the landmass in question was indeed an island. He departed the following summer, never to return but not before giving the island a new name - Garðarshólmur (literally, Garðar's Island). One of his men, Náttfari, decided to stay behind with two slaves. Náttfari settled in what is now known as Náttfaravík, close to Skjálfandi. Landnámabók maintains that Náttfari was not a permanent settler.

The second Norseman to arrive in Iceland was named Flóki Vilgerðarson, but the year of his arrival is not clear. According to the story told in Landnámabók, he took three ravens to help him find his way. Thus, he was nicknamed Raven-Flóki (Icelandic: Hrafna-Flóki). Flóki set his ravens free near the Faroe Islands. The first raven flew back to the Faroes. The second flew up in the air and then returned to the ship. However, the third flew in front of the ship and they followed its direction to Iceland.

He landed in Vatnsfjörður in the Westfjords after passing what is now Reykjavík. One of his men, Faxi, remarked that they seemed to have found great land - the bay facing Reykjavík is therefore known as Faxaflóki. A harsh winter caused all of Flóki's cattle to die - he cursed this cold country, and when he spotted a drift ice in the fjord he decided to name it "Ísland" (Iceland). Despite difficulties in finding food, he and his men stayed another year, this time in Borgarfjörður, but they headed back to Norway the following summer. Flóki would return much later and settle in what is now known as Flókadalur.

"There was a man of the North [Norway], Ingólfur, who is truly said to be the first to leave it for Iceland, in the time when Haraldr the Fair-Haired was sixteen winters of age … he settled south in Reykjavík." Íslendingabók

Another Norseman, by the name of Ingólfur Arnarson, had instigated a blood feud in his homeland, Norway. He and his foster-brother Hjörleifur went on an exploratory expedition to Iceland, and stayed over winter in what is now Álftafjörður. A few years later they returned to settle the land with their men. When they approached the island, Ingólfur cast his high seat pillars overboard and swore that he would settle where they drifted to shore. He then sent his slaves Vífill and Karli to search for the pillars. They found his foster-brother Hjörleifur murdered, and all his men gone. Ingólfur gave his foster-brother a heathen funeral in the Norse style and slew the murderers, who had fled to the Westman Islands.

As winter approached, Ingólfur's slaves found the pillars by Arnarhvol. When summer came, he built a farmstead in Reykjavík and claimed all the land west of the rivers of Ölfusá, Öxará and Brynjudalsá. His slave Karli did not care for the location, and said to Ingólfur: "How ill that we should pass good land, to settle in this remote peninsula."


The Norwegians Land in Iceland, Year 872 (1877)
Oscar Wergeland (1844–1910)

"The Norse in Iceland" (May 2016) Davide Marco Zori

Abstract

The Norse discovery and settlement of Iceland in the late ninth century AD offers a test case for the study of human impacts on previously unoccupied landscapes and the formation of new societies under challenging conditions. The Norse Viking Age settlement of the island serves as a cautionary tale about the anthropogenic destruction of fragile environments, while simultaneously providing lessons about the strategic management of marginal ecosystems and nuanced examples of societal evolution and secondary state formation. Archaeological investigation of these processes is complemented by oral traditions preserved in the Icelandic sagas. Although researchers debate the proper use of the sagas, the strength of recent research is its interdisciplinary nature, combining a suite of available tools of inquiry.

Subsistence

The Icelandic settlers were sedentary pastoralists supplementing their subsistence economy with hunting and gathering, especially of fish, eggs, and sea mammals. The economy of Iceland centered on the household as the productive unit. The Norse settlers brought cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and horses as part of their settlement package. These animals, which co-evolved with humans in much lower latitudes, do not thrive unaided in Iceland. Hay harvested in the summer and necessary to keep livestock alive in the winter was the limiting factor of subsistence and wealth production. Grain was probably never a major food source, but it did become a prestige crop and was imported for brewing of beer for chiefly feasts. Hard evidence for the limited cultivation of barley across Iceland is mounting. Pollen records and plow marks now indicate grain production, while barley consumption is evident by the increasing numbers of charred seeds recovered from houses and middens.

Politics and Social Structure

Norse Iceland was a decentralized, stratified society made up of chiefs, free farmers, attached farmers, and slaves. The textual sources - including Landnámabók, Íslendingabók, the sagas, and the law book Grágás - still provide the dominant model for the social and political structure of early Iceland.

The classic view of early Icelandic social structure stresses the impact of the leaders of the colonising population - chieftains and rich farmers from Norway - as dominant in establishing the new political order. These people, mostly men but also some women, led expeditions with one or several ships that contained their families, loyal followers, and often slaves. Upon arrival in Iceland they claimed large tracts of land and gifted land to their followers and manumitted (freed) slaves. This is borne out in Landnámabók, where the most successful settlers such as Helgi Magri (the Lean) in Eyjafjörður, Skallagrímr (Bald-Grim) in Borgarfjörður, and the female settler Auðr Djúpauðga (the Deep Minded) in Dalir claimed massive land areas for themselves. Helgi the Lean, for instance, claimed all of Eyjafjörður, an area that encompassed 450 separate farms in the eighteenth century.

The texts suggest that the first settlers established a form of extensive farmsteading. In this system, farmers founded large central farms and a series of small satellite farms to utilize resources within the larger territory. The primary settlers divided their land among supporters and dependents in order to create a manorial-type of farmsteading with farms specializing in various resources. Dividing farms among supporters also assured the first settlers a political support network in their chiefly competitions with neighbouring high-status settlers. The right of the landnámsmenn (land takers) to claim enormous pieces of land was increasingly restricted as the colonization process proceeded. According to Landnámabók, the Norwegian king helped to negotiate an agreement whereby no man could claim an area larger than he and his crew could carry fire over in a single day. By this time, however, early settlers had redistributed many of their large land claims to their followers and kin, creating politically powerful families with broad allegiance networks.

The settlement organization of the landnámsmaðr (land taker) Skallagrímr Kveldúlfsson as described in Egil's saga illustrates this settlement model of extensive farmsteading. Skallagrímr distributes his large land claim to followers and dependents, keeping direct control over a number of farms while exerting indirect control over others. Besides his own main farm at Borg, Skallagrímr retains direct control over five farms run by dependent settlers. Skallagrímr establishes Álftanes (Swan Promontory) to take advantage of marine and coastal resources, such as fishing, seal hunting, and sea-bird fowling. At Akrar (Grain Fields) Skallagrímr has a farm for his grain crops. He sets up Grísartunga (Pig Promontory) for highland summer pasturage and Einubrekkur for salmon fishing in the Gljúfrá River. He establishes ironworking close to the wood resources at Raufarnes (originally Rauðanes or Red Iron Ore Promontory). Skallagrímr gives a higher degree of independence to some of his followers, whose farms he manages indirectly. In return, the men running these farms owe their allegiance to him. Proximity to Skallagrímr's main farm at Borg does not appear to dictate whether the subordinate farms are managed directly or indirectly. In fact, two of his directly managed farms are further from Borg than are any of the independently managed farms.

In 930, Icelanders established the Althing, an island-wide governing body that met for two weeks around the summer solstice on the plains of Thingvellir. Due to the emigrating Norwegian free-farmers' concerns with maintaining household autonomy, the Icelanders established a system with a cultural focus on law that functioned without a king or any form of executive power. A Lawspeaker mediated the yearly Althing, recited one-third of the laws every year, but had no executive power. The Althing had a legislative branch called the Lögretta and a judicial branch that made decisions concerning disputes and conflicts. Enforcement of these decisions was, however, a private matter. This led to a feuding society mediated by the chieftains (goðar, sg. goði), who themselves profited by taking advantage of the judicial system.

In 960, court reforms to the Althing divided the island into four quarters and gave each quarter a separate court at the Althing. Each quarter contained three spring assemblies (várþing), and each várþing was led by three goðar. Each quarter had nine chieftaincies (goðorð). Because chieftains could share a single chieftaincy or own several, the number of chieftains often varied, while in theory the number of chieftaincies remained constant. Because the northern quarter contained four major fjords, it received a fourth várþing to facilitate travel to the assembly meetings. To maintain political balance, each of the other quarters was given three extra goðorðs. The total number of chieftaincies in Iceland was thereby raised to forty-eight. At the Althing one chieftain from each goðorð sat on the Lögretta legislative body supported by two advisors each. When Iceland was Christianized, the island's two bishops - established at Skálholt (AD 1056) and Hólar (AD 1106) - received a seat on the Lögretta as well. This systemic picture is depicted in the Grágás laws, and to a high degree this system seems to have worked in practice. Jón Víðar Sigurðsson (1999) has suggested the political system depicted in Grágás is a crystallized view from the time when the laws were written down. Sigurðsson, who sees the sagas as providing a more accurate description of how the society actually functioned than the law codes, points out that the numbers of chieftains mentioned in the early period of Icelandic history exceeds the fixed numbers upheld by Grágás. The two sources are not irreconcilable, however, and the discrepancy might be explained by the practice of co-ownership of chieftaincies.

By the twelfth century, chieftaincies, which could be traded, bought, or sold, were centralizing into the hands of a few families that were solidifying political control as an emergent aristocracy. Among these families, the most powerful were the Sturlungar in the north and west, the Haukdælir and Oddaverjar in the south, and the Svínafellingar in the east. These families competed for territorial control and support of local leaders in increasingly violent confrontations. The Sturlunga sagas vividly portray intensification of conflict and a change in warfare that occurred during the thirteenth century. For the first time, these sagas recount instances of chieftains with armed bands destroying farms in an effort to weaken the economic base of rival chieftains. The Icelandic political system was undergoing the processes of state formation. In 1258, a member of the newly emerging aristocracy was named Earl of Iceland by the Norwegian king, in exchange for his promise to extract tribute from Icelanders for the King of Norway. Any indigenous social evolution came to an end in 1262 as Icelanders at the Althing officially bent to the will of the Norwegian King and accepted incorporation into the Kingdom of Norway.

Studies attempting to amend, nuance, and expand this traditional narrative for the establishment and evolution of early Icelandic social order have employed historical documents, landscape attributes, archæological evidence, and, to a lesser extent, place names. Study of changes in regional settlement patterns can begin from the available texts, but new information depends on archæological work and a novel combination of available sources. In archæological settlement surveys, chronological control for the early period is challenging. Often these studies rely on assumptions about settlement order and hierarchies based on later medieval conditions, such as the locations of documented parish churches and property values from the postmedieval period. For instance, Vésteinsson et al. (2002) use all evidence available to propose a three-tiered settlement hierarchy of large complex, large simple, and planned settlements. The authors readily acknowledge that this means that their "assessments of which farm-sites derive from the landnám period are usually not based on archæological remains but on circumstantial and often less secure evidence like property value, size and shape of the farmland, and associations with a church or chapel". One of the major efforts now in the study of Norse Iceland seeks the missing temporal control that will more securely establish farm ages and settlement order. This resolution is likely to come from regional subsurface settlement surveys paired with larger open-area excavations of individual sites. This recognition has led to the initiation of multiple projects incorporating such multiscalar regional work in areas such as Mývatnssveit, Mosfell Valley, Reykholtsdalur and Skagafjörður.

Studies of individual households can illuminate the economy of farms and differences in social status between households. The use of increasingly careful sampling methods allows for the collection of seeds, bone fragments, and microartifacts not recovered in excavations during the twentieth century. Geochemical analyses of earthen and ash floors and soil micromorphological studies of floor stratigraphy illuminate specialized activity areas within buildings. Such studies at Hofstaðir, Aðalstræti, and Hrísbrú have helped to identify zones within the houses used, for instance, to stable animals and process wool. Examinations of parasites recovered in Norse buildings can reveal the presence of specific animals, the health of the resident human population, and economic activities e.g. large numbers of fleece louse (Damalinia ovis) and ked (Melophagus ovinus) recovered in specific rooms has been used to suggest wool processing, which is otherwise difficult to detect archæologically.

The artifacts from excavated Icelandic houses appear poor when compared to contemporary mainland Scandinavian find assemblages, even for houses like Hofstaðir, which all indications suggest is a high-status house. Given that differentials will be less marked because of the relative poverty of the marginal Icelandic society, comparison of assemblages should be undertaken primarily between Icelandic households. Perhaps more important, the increasing number of excavated houses allows comparisons of household assemblages that can move beyond status differentials and instead investigate the variable organization of household economies and approach the agency of individuals and families in pursuing subsistence, political, and ideological goals. For instance, comparisons of house size, zooarchæological remains, macrofossils, finds assemblages, and pollen records can not only demonstrate differences in economics based on local environment and status but also how some early Icelanders mobilised their subsistence base for political reasons, such as the production of beef and beer for consumption during politically charged feasting.

"DRAFT: Handbook of English Place-Name Construction" (2014) Sara L. Uckelman at Chapter 8 pages 117 to 130

"Warriors and women: the sex ratio of Norse migrants to eastern England up to 900 AD" (2011) Shane McLeod, Research Fellow at the University of Stirling

at page 332: "Various types of evidence have been used in the search for Norse migrants to eastern England in the latter ninth century. Most of the data gives the impression that Norse females were far outnumbered by males. But using burials that are most certainly Norse and that have also been sexed osteologically provides very different results for the ratio of male to female Norse migrants. Indeed, it suggests that female migration may have been as significant as male, and that Norse women were in England from the earliest stages of the migration, including during the campaigning period from 865."

Vikings famously invaded Eastern England around 900 A.D., notes Shane McLeod of the Centre for Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Western Australia in the Early Medieval Europe journal, starting with two army invasions in the 800s, recounted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. The Viking invaders founded their own medieval kingdom, 'the Danelaw', in Eastern England.

"There is some archaeological evidence for early Norse female settlement, most obviously oval brooches, but this evidence is minimal. The more difficult to date evidence of place names, personal names, and DNA samples derived from the modern population suggests that Norse women did migrate to England at some stage, but probably in far fewer numbers than Norse men," begins the study.

However, McLeod notes that recently, burials of female Norse immigrants have started to turn up in Eastern England. "An increase in the number of finds of Norse-style jewellery in the last two decades has led some scholars to suggest a larger number of female settlers. Indeed, it has been noted that there are more Norse female dress items than those worn by men," says the study.

So, the study looked at 14 Viking burials from the era, definable by the Norse grave goods found with them and isotopes found in their bones that reveal their birthplace. The bones were sorted for tell-tale osteological signs of which gender they belonged to, rather than assuming that burial with a sword or knife denoted a male burial.

Overall, McLeod reports that six of the 14 burials were of women, seven were men, and one was indeterminable. Warlike grave goods may have misled earlier researchers about the gender of Viking invaders, the study suggests. At a mass burial site called Repton Woods, "despite the remains of three swords being recovered from the site, all three burials that could be sexed osteologically were thought to be female, including one with a sword and shield," says the study.

at page 341: "Genetic evidence based on modern populations can also be difficult to date and has yet to win widespread support amongst scholars. Inferences about past populations drawn from the results of modern genetic sampling are also complicated by such factors as post-Viking Age immigration, and genetic drift, whereby changes in frequencies of mtDNA and Y-chromosome types occur due to variations in the number of offspring in the intervening generations. Although further advances in science may include better ancient DNA methods, including more widely applicable DNA-based sex-testing, it has thus far proved difficult to retrieve verifiable genetic material from ancient skeletons without the sample suffering from modern contamination. One solution to the problem of using genetic evidence from modern populations is to concentrate on Y-chromosome haplotypes and to select the modern sample based on surnames known to have existed in a region during the medieval period, but this has yet to be attempted in eastern England."

at page 351: "The presence of women and children with the 890s army led Abels to declare that "Vikings who had brought their families and goods clearly had no intention of returning to the famine-stricken lands of Francia". Whilst the intention of the Norse may not be certain - for example, the women and children may not have been able to remain in Francia - the suggestion is certainly reasonable. As it can be demonstrated that women and probably children accompanied the great army of the 860s and 870s it increases the possibility that that army had also arrived in England with the intention of winning a homeland."

at page 353: "Although the results presented here cannot be used to determine the number of female settlers, they do suggest that the ratio of females to males may have been somewhere between a third to roughly equal. Furthermore, there is osteologically sexed burial evidence of Norse women in England during the earliest campaigning period of the great army of 865."

"These results, six female Norse migrants and seven male, should caution against assuming that the great majority of Norse migrants were male, despite the other forms of evidence suggesting the contrary. This result of almost a 50:50 ratio of Norse female migrants to Norse males is particularly significant when some of the problems with osteological sexing of skeletons are taken into account," says the study.

Women may have accompanied male Vikings in those early invasions of England, in much greater numbers than scholars earlier supposed, McLeod concludes. Rather than the ravaging rovers of legend, the Vikings arrived as marriage-minded colonists. "Although the results presented here cannot be used to determine the number of female settlers, they do suggest that the ratio of females to males may have been somewhere between a third to roughly equal," the study concludes.


"The one-eyed trickster and his names", Óðinn's trickster-aspect as evident in Heiti, Sagas and Eddas (2014) Jeremias Jokisch

Norse names

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