Assembly site

 

Lögberg.jpg

The assembly site was the area including the Law Rock (Lögberg) and the Law Council, where the Alþing performed its duties. Its limits were at Kastalar, two lava hills on the northernmost part of Neðri-Vellir; Lake Þingvallavatn in the south; the higher wall of the Almannagjá fault in the west; and Flosagjá - and the faults leading from it - in the east. Within these boundaries, all men were free to take part in the proceedings. Flosagjá is one of the main faults at Þingvellir, with clear water up to 25 metres deep.


Where it faces the main assembly site it assumes a prolonged fork; the eastern branch is named Nikulásargjá. After this was bridged in 1907, visitors began throwing coins into the water below and this part of the fault gradually became known as Peningagjá ("Money Fault"). Peningagjá does not figure in any folk tale, but one can see the coins in the deathly cold water as a symbol of the great natural resource that the water in fact is. Spöngin is the long spit of lava separating the branches of the Flosagjá fault. In the 18th and much of the 19th century, people identified this with the Law Rock from the early days of the Alþing. It is sometimes referred to as the Heathen Law Rock or the Old Law Rock.

sydrabudasv.jpgFlosagjá continues in to Skötutjörn and Skötugjá while Seiglugjá, Túngjá and Fjósagjá lie south of Nikulásargjá. A little way to the east, Silfra is largely submerged. Most of the water in Lake Þingvallavatn flows through these faults and beneath many parts of the lava field. Öxará river has been a prominent feature of Þingvellir ever since the assemblies began there. The Sturlunga Saga tells how the river was diverted into Almannagjá to give people at the assembly easy access to fresh water. In the 10th century, duels were held on the islet Öxarárhólmi, until they were prohibited shortly after the Icelandic people became Christian.
Flooding from Öxará, combined with land subsidence, made it necessary to move the Law Council from its original location. The grassy ruins of booths where the "Þingmen" and other visitors to the assembly stayed can be seen in many places around the site. However, only two visible ruins date from the Commonwealth period. One, known as Njálsbúð, is a vague ruin on the west bank of Öxará, opposite the Þingvallabær residence. The other is Biskupabúð, the largest ruin at Þingvellir, in the meadow north of the church. Other ruins date from the 17th and 18th centuries but are probably built upon the remnants of earlier booths.
Safe travel in Iceland
Travellers should prepare well for each trip and know its trail and route conditions.
The THING Project
The THING Project is based on the Thing sites that are the assembly sites spread across North West Europe as a result of the Viking diaspora and Norse settlements.
World heritage
Thingvellir was accepted on the World Heritage list for its cultural values in 2004 at World Heritage Committee meeting in China.
Protection and management
Thingvellir National Park was designated by a special law on the protection of the area, passed by the Alþing on 7th May, 1928.