A Scaife settler in Iceland ca. AD 910

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A Scaife settler in Iceland ca. AD 910

Skeifi Skoptason :

The Scandinavians arrived in Iceland unintentionally. According to tradition Helgi the Lean was the first to arrive in Iceland with his wife and children and his son in law Hamund Hell Skin having been blown off course, perhaps as early as 870 AD. To begin with there seems to have been only a trickle of immigrants, but during the period 890-910 there was a steady stream laying claim to the best farm lands. By 930 AD when the settlers and their sons instituted the legislative and judicial Althing, and organised their society of free farmers, the ‘Age of Settlements’ was over. The stories of these early settlers were passed down through oral tradition until they were finally set down in Landnámabók compiled by Sturla Thordarson, between 1275-1280.

What follows is the story of how Skeifi Skoptason came to settle at Eyrafjord, Iceland.

"There was a famous man in Mǿre called Skeifi Skoptason, who quarrelled with Eystein the Clatterer and fled westward to Iceland because of it. With the approval of Helgi the Lean he took possession of the east side of Eyjarfjord, from Vard Ravine northward to Fnjoskkadale River, and made his home at Sigluvik. His son was Thorbjorn, the father of Hedin the Generous who built a farm at Svalbard sixteen years before Christianity was adopted."

Skeifi Skoptason arrived in Iceland ca 910 AD. Iceland was not Christianized for a further hundred years when Christianity became the religion by law in AD 1000.

The byname Skeifi is used here in its Old Norse form but appears in the Old Icelandic form of Skakke in Landnámabók. For a fuller explanation of this linguistic development see “Now Vanish the Heroes.”

Dr. John Scaife