Garðar Svavarsson

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Garðar Svavarsson

Garðarr Svavarsson (modern Icelandic: Garðar Svavarsson, modern Swedish: Gardar Svavarsson) man who is considered by many to be the first Scandinavian to live in Iceland, although he is said to have stayed only for one winter.[1]

According to Haukr Erlendsson's edition of Landnámabók, he owned land in Zealand (Denmark) and was married to a woman from the Hebrides. During a voyage to these isles (in the 860s) in order to claim his inheritance from his father-in-law, he sailed into a storm at Pentland Firth. This storm pushed his ship far to the north until he reached the eastern coast of Iceland. He circumnavigated the island, becoming the first known person to do so and thus establishing that the landmass was an island, and went ashore at Skjálfandi. He built himself a house and stayed for the winter. Since then, the place has been called Húsavík (located in North Eastern Iceland).

Having returned, he praised the new land and called it after his own name Garðarshólmi (see names of Iceland). Nothing is known of his fate thereafter, but his son, Uni danski (Uni the Dane), emigrated to Iceland and made a feeble attempt to win it for the Norwegian king but be earl over himself and he had consulted this with the king but when the farmers knew his intent they would help him in no way and soon he was killed. He did though manage to have a son before dying, Hróar who is named as the goði at Tunga. Hroar quarreled with other men and was twice challenged to a hillbattle and won both times and killed his opponents but was eventually murdered but then avenged by his son. Hroar's wife was Arngunnur sister of Gunnar Hámundarson, who is one of the main characters Njáls saga, the longest and generally considered the greatest of the Icelandic Sagas.


  1. M C Ross The Cambridge introduction to the old Norse-Icelandic saga 2010 "Atlantic island settlements. There was a Norwegian named Naddoddr and a Swede called Garðarr Svavarsson, the former blown off his course for the Faroe Islands, the latter attempting to get to the Hebrides. Another Norwegian ... "