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Irish Monks and Vikings

Iceland is not as far north as some other Scandinavian countries - in fact, it barely touches the Arctic Circle - but separated from the continent by the cold and stormy Norwegian Sea, it was the last European country to be settled.

Some early documents say that Irish monks settled there as early as the 8th century, but left upon the arrival of the pagan Norsemen.

Click for more information. Norsemen came mainly from Norway and elsewhere in Scandinavia in the 9th and 10th centuries, and the language and culture of Iceland has been mainly Scandinavian from that time.

Others that followed from the Norse settlements in the British Isles brought with them a Celtic influence that is still seen in some of the ancient poetry, personal names and the appearance of some present-day Icelanders.

An entry from the "Icelandic Annals" of 1348 chronicled the deaths of 100,000 in Britain from the plague, and later, an entry indicated that nine English sailors had succumbed to the plague. This indicates that other Europeans were venturing into the Arctic and regularly trading with Iceland by that time.

Picture Right: Irish Monks in a curragh (skin boat)

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