Ingólfr Arnarsson first settler of Iceland and his wife Hallveig Fróðadóttir

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Ingólfr Arnarsson first settler of Iceland and his wife Hallveig Fróðadóttir

Ingólfr Arnarson[1] (Icelandic pronunciation: [ˈiŋkoul̥fʏr̥ ˈar̥tn̥ar̥sɔn]) is recognized as the first permanent Nordic settler of Iceland. According to Landnáma he built his homestead in (and gave name to) Reykjavík in 874. Although recent archaeological finds in Iceland suggest settlement may have started a little earlier, the date is probably not too far off.

The medieval chronicler Ari Thorgilsson said Ingólfr was the first Nordic settler in Iceland, but mentioned that "Papar" – i.e. Irish monks and hermits – had been in the country before the Norsemen. He wrote that they left because they did not want to live amongst the newly arrived pagans.

Landnáma (written two to three centuries after the settlement) contains a long story about Ingólf's settlement. The book claims he left Norway after becoming involved in a blood feud. He had heard about a new island which Garðarr Svavarsson, Flóki Vilgerðarson and others had found in the Atlantic Ocean. With his close friend Hjörleifr Hróðmarsson,
he sailed for Iceland. When land was in sight, he threw his high seat
pillars (a sign of his being a chieftain) overboard and promised to
settle where the gods decided to bring them ashore. Two of his slaves
then searched the coasts for three years before finding the pillars in
the small bay which eventually became Reykjavík.

In the meantime, Hjörleifr had been murdered by his Irish slaves
because of his ill-treatment. Ingólfr hunted them down and killed them
in the Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar, named after the slaves).

Ingólfr was said to settle a large part of the south-western part of
Iceland, but after his settlement nothing more was known. His son, Þorsteinn Ingólfsson, was a major chieftain and was said to have founded the first thing, or parliament, in Iceland. It was a forerunner of the Althingi.

The name Ingolf, similar to the name Adolf that means "aristocratic wolf", would be translated as "royal or kingly wolf."

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