Cloisters and Culture in Iceland and the North 
in the Middle Ages

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Animal bone evidence and life in Icelandic monasteries

Thursday October 3, 2013, at 16.30
Árnagarður 423

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir 1
Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir

Animal bones have been identified in the archaeological excavations of monasteries at Skriðuklaustur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Viðey in Iceland. What can animal bones tell us about life in these monasteries, their financial status and religious practices? Are there differences between these monasteries as far as their bone assemblages are concerned? Is there anything comparable when bone assemblages from contemporary European monasteries are looked to? How are these monastic bone assemblages distinct from those found in excavations of typical Icelandic farm sites? There are various indications that specialised handiwork (bone carving, manuscript production, textile production) took place at these monasteries and evidence for this can be found in the animal bone assemblages. All monasteries used the wealth of the sea in various ways and fishbones, seal- and whale-bones and the bones of sea-birds have been uncovered during excavations at each of the three monasteries. The main results regarding animal bone investigations at Icelandic monasteries and what the bones can tell us about the daily lives of the monastic inhabitants will be presented in this lecture.

Albína Hulda Pálsdóttir is employed as a zooarchaeologist at the Auðlindadeild Landbúnaðarháskóla Íslands (Faculty of Animal and Land Resources, Agricultural University of Iceland) and works on the origins of Icelandic livestock farming within the fields of zooarchaeology and DNA research.

(NB this lecture will be presented in Icelandic)