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Conference Held by the Scholarly Center in

Leirubakki and Stavanger University


Leirubakki, 5-7 June 2009


In The Footsteps Of A Pioneer
The European Historian Tormod Torfæus

Scholarly Center at Leirubakki:
Human Life in a New Land
Settlement, Human Life, and Society in a New Land

Plans are underway for the establishment and development of a Scholarly Center at Leirubakki in Landsveit, South Iceland.  The center will support research activities on the original settlement of Iceland and on how human life and society there were shaped in the melting-pot of people with different


backgrounds, coming as they did from Norway and the British Isles and contending with new living conditions.  Iceland is the last country in Europe to be inhabited, and an unusually large amount of historical sources exist concerning its settlement and its first human habitations, as well as on how Icelandic society developed from heathen to Christian under the auspices of communal laws, assemblies, and chieftains who had close associations with earls and kings in Norway.

The Scholarly Center at Leirubakki will provide support for diverse forms of research on these topics, for instance through seminars, conferences, exhibitions, the provision of research facilities, publications, and trips.  Its focus will be twofold:  on the one hand, all research and scholarship undertaken at Leirubakki will be required to hold up to professional academic standards, and on the other hand research findings and material will be made accessible to students, tourists, and the general public, both Icelandic and foreign.

Leirubakki currently hosts the Hekla Center, which, besides maintaining an exhibition on the volcano Hekla, supports a variety of educational and cultural projects, particularly connected with the Rangá District.  One goal of these projects is to emphasize both directly and indirectly the cultural heritage that Iceland shares with its neighboring countries, especially Norway, Scotland, and Ireland.

The purposefulness of projects undertaken at Leirubakki will be upheld by the provision of living and work facilities for scholars, where they will be able to pursue their research on the aforementioned topics for specific periods of time.  In addition, plans are in the works for the construction of a stave-church on the farm, a conjectural reconstruction that will symbolize in some ways the research done at the Scholarly Center: more and more evidence is coming to light suggesting that such churches were built in Iceland in the Middle Ages, and that Icelandic dwellings had been far more stylish than those seen in later periods.  The church will also function as a gallery for exhibitions on church culture and art, reflecting the ways in which the faith and the Church have been powerful driving forces in Icelandic society throughout most of its history.  Also planned is an exhibition that will provide visitors with an easily accessible introduction to the history of Iceland from the settlement period until modern times.

Numerous partnerships will be sought for the development of the Scholarly Center at Leirubakki, for instance with governmental agencies and universities in Iceland, Norway, and the British Isles, as well as with various other cultural institutes and private corporations.  The professional standards for the activities at Leirubakki will be determined by the board of the Scholarly Center, which will be composed of scholars from various disciplines.


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