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Norse Greenland: Selected Papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008 Front Matter
Title Page, The Hvalsey Ford Church, Foreword, 2008 Hvalsey Conference Program, Listing of Conference Delegates

Journal of the North Atlantic, Special Volume 2 (2009–10): 1–6

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JONA Vol. 1 abstract page


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Norse Greenland: Selected Papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008 Volume Editors: Jette Arneborg National Museum of Denmark, Danish Middle Ages and Renaissance, Copenhagen, Denmark Georg Nyegaard The Greenland National Museum and Archives, Nuuk, Greenland Orri Vésteinsson Department of Archaeology, University of Iceland, Reykjavík, Iceland Delegates stepping into the shoes of the medieval congregation in Hvalsey church, with men on the south side and women on the north. Photograph © Maria Baastrup. 2009 Special Volume 2 Norse Greenland: Selected Papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008 Journal of the North Atlantic The Hvalsey Fjord Church Aleqa Hammond Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs Greenland Homerule Government Qaqortoq, 15 September 2008 Mr. Mayor Simonsen, Ladies, and Gentlemen, On behalf of Greenland Homerule Government, I have the privilege to give the opening speech of this important and historic conference. It is my honor to be here today among so many new faces and friends of Greenland. The Norse history in Greenland is an important part of Greenland’s history. We share the same passion in choosing the most wonderful places and fjords to settle in. We share the same passion for food in forms of marine mammals and the world’s best sheep meat, but I am sure that we also share the same challenges of survival in the arctic— through climatic change and the challenges of living in a harsh environment. The Norse connection to Greenland made it possible for us today to have such a close relationship with Scandinavia. I have just spent a few days together with some Icelanders among others in Ilulissat this week. Mr. Halldór Ásgrímsson, the general secretary of the Nordic Council of Ministers, mentioned the Icelanders in Greenland (meaning the Norse) and that they had travelled to Newfoundland after Greenland and that the Icelanders actually were the fi rst from the east in America before Christopher Columbus. Well, again it depends on how you defi ne the terms. I told him that once the Icelanders arrived in Greenland, they became Greenlanders. So, the Greenlanders were fi rst in North America and not the Icelanders. Well, we ended up with laughter, discussion, and of course, sharing our passion for Norse history. We, the Inuit and the Icelanders, are interconnected in history and we both fi nd the Norse presence in Greenland very important. We were neighbors to each other in this country and we still have a good neighboring relationship with each other as countries. The Hvalsey Fjord Church is standing proof of Greenland’s pride in world class heritage. It is a symbol of history, professionalism, Christianity, mystery, beauty, and so much more. It has told us and the world much of the past, but I am sure that there are some untold stories still to be discovered. The Hvalsey Fjord Church wedding that took place 600 years ago is one of the most important weddings that ever took place in Greenland, as this wedding was the last evidence of the Norse presence in Greenland in the written form. Many weddings have taken place after the historic wedding. If I am to add a little personal angle to this, I must say that I got married in this town, and the celebrations of my own historic wedding took place in this room. My husband is and has been working so much with the Hvalsey Fjord Church that I almost feel as if the Hvalsey Fjord Church is part of our marriage, certainly within the last months of the preparation to this conference. Greenland is today working on the application to add specifi c areas, including Norse historic sites in South Greenland, to the World Heritage list. In this sense, the Norse presence in Greenland will not only be of historic importance to all of us, but this also will become heritage to all mankind. It is an important part of not only archaeology but also the history of Christianity. I must say that the Norse travelled on to the West with God in their hearts and a will of steel—I can think of no better tools to make the best and wildest journeys for anyone. The Greenland Homerule Government fi nds this historic conference very important. Through the Hvalsey Fjord Church, the world also will be looking at South Greenland through you, and I am sure that you all will be, and are already, good ambassadors to us. I hope that you all will have a fantastic stay and that you will be sharing the good information amongst yourselves and among us, the Greenlanders. Welcome to Qaqortoq. Thank you for your attention, Qujanaq Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance Aleqa Hammond (left) opened the conference with Simon Simonsen, the mayor of Qaqortoq (right). Photograph © Jette Arneborg. 2009 Special Volume 2 Norse Greenland: Selected Papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008 Journal of the North Atlantic Foreword The ruin of Hvalsey Fjord Church in the former Eastern Settlement in South Greenland is the most impressive evidence of the Medieval Nordic settlement in the New World and constitutes, together with the ruins of the adjacent farm, one of the most important historical sites in Greenland. According to Landnámabók, the site was settled already in the fi rst phase of the landnam in 985 by Þorkell Farserkr, a cousin of Erik the Red. Probably, the site was occupied throughout the entire settlement period, as the last historical record relating to Norse Greenland also refers to this locality. Thus, according to Icelandic annals, two visiting Icelanders, Sigríður Björnsdóttir and Þorsteinn Ólafsson, were married in the Hvalsey Fjord Church in 1408 before leaving Greenland for good two years later. The wedding took place on the Sunday after the exaltation of the Cross (Exalto S. Crucis). The exaltation of the Cross in autumn falls on September 14th, and the following Sunday in 1408 was September 16t h. To celebrate the 600th anniversary of this wedding, the fi rst conference ever to be held in Greenland on Norse history was arranged from 12th–19th September 2008. The conference took place in the village hall in Qaqortoq situated in the heart of the former Eastern Settlement, some 20km SW of the Hvalsey Fjord Church. With a population of 3200 people, this town is the largest in South Greenland and a regional center for administration, education, and commerce. For its citizens, the Hvalsey site and its beautiful surroundings has for generations been a favored destination for picnics and recreation during the summer season. The site is increasingly gaining importance for the local tourist industry as one of the main attractions in the region. As can be seen from the program, the many exciting lectures covered a wide fi eld. Some focused on the Norse Greenland Settlements, while others brought perspectives on Norse Greenland from other Viking and Medieval societies in the Norse North Atlantic. The program was packed, and the present proceedings include only a selection of the papers presented at the conference. However, we hope this collection gives the reader an insight into the high quality of all the papers given at the conference. It is, we believe, a testimony to the exciting and vigorous research that is taking place in this fi eld and will hopefully generate further debate and research in the future. On the 16th of September, the 67 participants from 13 countries spent the day at the Hvalsey site. Further excursions were arranged to the key sites at Brattahlíð (Qassiarsuk) and Garðar (Igaliku), with an additional tour to the well-preserved ruin group at Sissarluttoq. The organizers of the Hvalsey Conference 2008 are very grateful for fi nancial support received from Nordisk Kulturfond, Dronning Margrethe og Prins Henriks Fond, Utanríkisráðuneytið (the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and Fællesfond mellem Nuuk, Reykjavík og Tórshavn. Furthermore, we want to thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Finance from the Greenland Homerule Government, Aleqa Hammond, and the Mayor of Qaqortoq, Simon Simonsen, for addressing the conference at the opening session. Jette Arneborg, Georg Nyegaard, and Orri Vésteinsson Georg Nyegaard addressing the conference. Photograph © Jette Arneborg. 2009 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 2 The Hvalsey Conference 2008 Program Friday 12 September All meet in Reykjavík domestic airport, Iceland After arriving in Narsarsuaq, boat trip to Qassiarsuk (Brattahlíð) The Brattahlíð-ruins. Guided tour by Caroline Paulsen, National Museum of Denmark Accommodation and dinner at the hotel in Narsarsuaq Saturday 13 September Travel from Narsarsuaq to Qaqortoq with a stop in Igaliku (Garðar) Guided tour of the ruins by PhD student Mogens Høegsberg, Aarhus University Dinner at Restaurant Napparsivik in Qaqortoq Sunday 14 September Offi cial opening of the conference Aleqa Hammond, Minister of Finances and Foreign Affairs Simon Simonsen, Mayor of Qaqortoq Sessions The Hvalsey Fjord Church and Farm Settlement Structure and Central Places in the North Atlantic Monday 15 September Sessions Church Organization in the North Atlantic Contacts and Communication in the North Atlantic Public lectures at Forsamlingshuset (in Danish). Jette Arneborg: Nordboerne—bønder, fangere og handelsfolk Kirsten Seaver: Veien var lang; vinden var kold Tuesday 16 September Excursion To Hvalsey Guided tour by Jette Arneborg and Georg Nyegaard Picnic at the ruins Banquet in Forsamlingshuset, Qaqortoq Wednesday 17 September Session Contacts and Communication in the North Atlantic, continued Thursday 18 September Travel from Qaqortoq to Narsarsuaq via Narsaq Visit “Landnamsgården” the landnám farm. Guided tour by Rie Oldenburg, Director of Narsaq museum 12:30—Lunch in Narsaq at Inuili Dinner at Hotel Narsarsuaq Friday 19 September Departure from Narsarsuaq Lunch at Hvalsey. Photograph © Maria Baastrup. Anne Pedersen (left) and Birgitta Wallace (right). Photograph © Jette Arneborg. One of the speed-boats taking delegates on one of the excursions. Photograph © Maria Baastrup. Conference Delegates Abrams, Lesley, UK Aðalsteinsdóttir, Silja, Iceland Ahola, Joonas, Finland Albrethsen, Svend Erik, Denmark Andersen, Michael, Denmark Andresen, Knut, Norway Arneborg, Jette, Denmark Barrett, James, UK Bond, Julie, UK Boscardin, Letizia Heyer, Switzerland Baastrup, Maria, Denmark Campanini, Manuela Silvia, Italy Christensen, Tea Dahl, Greenland Dockrill, Steve, UK Edwards, Kevin, UK Engberg, Nils, Denmark Etting, Vivian, Denmark Ferguson, Rob, Canada Gjerland, Berit, Norway Graham-Campbell, James, UK Griffi ths, David, UK Grove, Jonathan, UK Gräslund, Anne-Sofi e, Sweden Guðmundsson, Garðar, Iceland Guðmundsson, Guðmundur J., Iceland Gulløv, Hans Christian, Denmark Hansen, Steffen Stummann, Faroe Islands Heide, Poul B., Denmark Høegsberg, Mogens Skaaning, Denmark Imer, Lisbeth, Denmark Jesch, Judith, UK Jochens, Jenny, USA Karlsson, Gunnar, Iceland Keller, Christian, Norway Kopár, Lilla, USA Kristoffersen, Birger, Greenland Lee, Christina, UK Ljungqvist, Fredrik Charpentier, Sweden Lynge, Finn, Greenland Lynnerup, Niels, Denmark McDonald, Andrew, Canada Magnúsdóttir, Sigurlaug, Iceland Meyer, Werner, Switzerland Nyegaard, Georg, Greenland Ogilvie, Astrid, USA Ólafsson, Guðmundur, Iceland Oldenburg, Rie, Greenland Óskarsdóttir, Svanhildur, Iceland Patterson, Bill, Canada Paulsen, Caroline, Denmark Pedersen, Anne, Denmark Pettersen, Trond Erling, Norway Price, Neil, UK Roesdahl, Else, Denmark Sanmark, Alexandra, UK Schofi eld, Ed, UK Seaver, Kirsten, USA Sheehan, John, Ireland Solli, Brit, Norway Sutherland, Patricia, Canada Svensson, Jennica Einebrant, Sweden Söderman, Lena, Sweden Vésteinsson, Orri, Iceland Vohra, Pragya, UK Wallace, Birgitta, Canada Weile, John, Denmark Woxen, Trond, USA Zöega, Guðný, Iceland The conference hall, listening to Joonas Ahola’s paper. Photograph © Georg Nyegaard. Kevin Edwards and Ed Schofi eld explaining about the Bishop‘s fi elds at Garðar. Photograph © Lisbeth Imer. 2009 Special Volume 2 Norse Greenland: Selected Papers from the Hvalsey Conference 2008 Journal of the North Atlantic Delegates listening to Jette Arneborg among the ruins of Hvalsey. Photograph © Georg Nyegaard. Mid-September in Southern Greenland. Photograph © Georg Nyegaard. 2009 Journal of the North Atlantic Special Volume 2